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Earl Little Enters Starting Safety Competition


Earl Little may have returned to second-string strong safety during Monday's practice, but he took advantage of the opportunity Saturday night when he replaced the injured Mark Roman as the starter versus the Buffalo Bills.

"He's still in competition," secondary/safeties coach Joe Baker said. "And he's made it very interesting."

Little racked up four tackles against the Bills. He drilled Bills wide receiver Eric Moulds to force a first quarter incompletion. The veteran wisely stayed at home while the Bills attempted a flea flicker between McGahee and Losman and broke up the pass intended for wide receiver Josh Reed.

He leveled Sam Breeden with his shoulder during Monday's practice.

"I've been playing consistently in the scrimmage and against San Diego and against the Bills," Little said. "What more can I do?"

Little finished Thursday' practice as the starter once Roman left practice ice his hamstring.

"If I could be out there each and every play running around I would be," Roman said. "But I can't right now, and that's just something I've got to deal with."

He missed five days of practice before returning on Monday.

Little, Roman's main competition, signed with the Packers after playing with the Cleveland Browns for six years. He barks out the offensive plays before they happen -- a sign the eight-year veteran, who signed as a free agent, has mastered defensive coordinator Jim Bates' new defense.

"I feel so comfortable right now that I feel like I'm back in Cleveland," he said. "Now my athletic ability can take over."

Competition is nothing new for Little. He entered the NFL as undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins in 1997, and he never forgets those humble beginnings and the extra work it took to land a roster spot.

"I've got a chip on my shoulder every time I go out there," he said.

The coaching staff has not announced either starting safety position, but rookie free safety Nick Collins continues to wow observers during training camp.

At the strongside the coaching staff probably will decide between Roman and Little, two players with a combined 14 years of NFL experience and a lot of desire.

"I'm hungry," Little said. "I'm going to continue to work hard. I'm not going to let up because that's my goal to be the starting strong safety for the Green Bay Packers."

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