Notebook: Collins Has Chance To Play, Blackmon Also Back At Practice

The Packers couldn’t have asked for a better time to see safety Nick Collins and cornerback Will Blackmon back on the practice field. - More | Audio | Video | Packers-Cowboys Game Center Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 25


With all the uncertainty surrounding the status of injured defensive backs Aaron Rouse (knee) and Charles Woodson (toe) this week, the Packers couldn't have asked for a better time to see safety Nick Collins and cornerback Will Blackmon back at practice.

Collins was going through the defense's jog-through portion of practice that was open to reporters on Sunday, his first significant practice time since injuring his knee early in the third quarter at Kansas City on Nov. 4.

Rouse has started the last three games in Collins' place and has two interceptions, but now that he injured his knee in Detroit, it's especially heartening news that Collins could start on Thursday in Dallas.

"Nick has a chance," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "He practiced today."

Since learning the extent of his knee injury, Collins has said his goal was to return to the field in Dallas.

Meanwhile there's been no specific timetable for Blackmon other than to hope he'll be able to play at some point this season and not have to go on season-ending injured reserve.

Blackmon injured his foot - the same one he hurt in the spring of 2006 - and hasn't played since Week 4 at Minnesota.

But if Woodson is unavailable and Blackmon is, that would still give the Packers three cornerbacks - Frank Walker, Tramon Williams and Blackmon - behind starters Al Harris and Jarrett Bush. Bush moved up to the No. 2 cornerback spot when Woodson left the Detroit game last Thursday in the second quarter.

McCarthy also said Williams and Blackmon took reps at punt returner Sunday in case Woodson is unable to play and/or handle those duties.

There was no update on Woodson's status or that of any other injured players on Sunday. The Packers aren't required to file an injury/practice participation report with the league until Tuesday.

Welcome back

Another insurance policy in the injury-riddled defensive backfield was brought in on Sunday, and it was a familiar face.

Safety Marviel Underwood was signed to the 53-man roster roughly three months after he was released during training camp. Underwood, who was a fourth-round draft pick in 2005, blew out his knee in the first preseason game in 2006 and missed the entire season.

He came back to battle for a roster spot in training camp this past summer, but he wasn't his old self less than a year removed from the knee injury and was released on Aug. 21.

Underwood said after leaving Green Bay he went back home to San Diego to work out and stay in shape. He said he had been called in for workouts with Houston, Denver and Seattle and had another one scheduled next week before Green Bay called on Friday.

Even though the other workouts didn't result in a contract offer, and the waiting game has been very difficult, Underwood said it's been beneficial to go through the process.

"It was more about testing myself," he said. "I wanted to see where I was at. I had to run the 40 and all that stuff over again.

"It was a challenge for me, and I started improving every time I had a workout."

His first practice in the Don Hutson Center on Sunday went well by all accounts. McCarthy, who said the team signed Underwood as a protective measure for the defensive backfield, said he feels Underwood has kept himself in shape.

"I got my body rested and my knee feels great," Underwood said. "It was like a whole new world out there practicing. I feel like a kid again."


While trying to downplay the upcoming matchup with Dallas receiver Terrell Owens, Packers cornerback Al Harris did say in all seriousness it was important not to let himself get too jacked up heading into Thursday's game.

{sportsad300}"You can't," said Harris, who many are expecting to be matched up one-on-one with Owens to see how he handles bump-and-run press coverage. "It's a big game, the adrenaline is going to flow regardless, and that's exactly how I'm looking at it."

In most games, Harris has been assigned to the opposing team's top receiver and been counted on to hold him in check. In the Thanksgiving game in Detroit, the Lions' top target, Roy Williams, had just three catches, and only two of those came against Harris in man-to-man coverage.

Perhaps being baited by reporters into expressing some sort of bravado about going up against Owens, the NFC's receiving leader in yards (1,093) and touchdowns (13), Harris wasn't going that route.

"I'm pretty sure he has somebody pressing him every week, and I face good receivers every week, so we'll see how it all plays out," Harris said.

"I tend to just let my play do the talking. I'm not a trash-talker or anything like that. But I respect everybody who lines up across from me, and it's no different this week."

Harris said part of his routine in preparing for a specific opponent is to watch the film of that player's best games, as well as the film of defenses that play a similar scheme to Green Bay's.

Examples of the former are readily available - Owens had four straight 100-yard games, with eight total touchdowns, prior to Thanksgiving - but the latter might be harder to find. Though that won't stop the Packers and Harris from doing what they do.

"We've seen a little bit of man (coverage), definitely not as much as Green Bay likes to play," Dallas quarterback Tony Romo said. "Teams usually try it for a little bit, but we've got pretty good individual talent when it comes to man-to-man matchups.

"I definitely don't think a team has tried to play man-to-man for a full game, but I definitely expect Green Bay to do it."

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