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Notebook: Peprah Ready If Needed

Injuries on defense early this season have required the Packers call on some of their depth, and that could be the case again Sunday with third-year safety Charlie Peprah potentially making his first career NFL start. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Oct. 2

Injuries on defense early this season have required the Packers call on some of their depth, and that could be the case again Sunday with third-year safety Charlie Peprah potentially making his first career NFL start.

Starting strong safety Atari Bigby, who has been inactive the past two games with a hamstring injury, was limited in Thursday's practice after not participating at all on Wednesday.

Second-year safety Aaron Rouse, who stepped into the starting role in Bigby's absence, sustained a knee injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game at Tampa Bay and did not participate in practice Thursday. Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Rouse is "not coming along as fast as we would have hoped."

If both Bigby and Rouse are unable to play Sunday, Peprah would get the start against the Falcons, with cornerback/safety Jarrett Bush backing up Peprah and Nick Collins.

"You go back to training camp, Charlie was right in the thick of it," McCarthy said. "Charlie Peprah was someone we felt was pushing the other guys in training camp and had the pretty significant hamstring injury, missed a lot of time. It's good to have him back.

"We have confidence in Charlie. We really feel that we have four very good safeties on this team, and I think Jarrett Bush has potential to be another good safety. We're confident in his abilities."

Peprah, who was one of the Packers' top special teams performers in '07 with 11 tackles and two forced fumbles, got off to a strong start in training camp practices this season before sustaining the injury in an Aug. 5 practice. He missed all four preseason games and was inactive for the first two regular-season contests.

"It was very frustrating because things were starting to click," Peprah said. "When you are seeing yourself improve, it's encouraging and then to go down is obviously discouraging.

"Then the season is full-fledged and you feel at first that you're kind of a step behind, but there's no time for that. I just had to relax and calm down and knock the rust off, and here I am."

Peprah saw significant time in the second half against Dallas when Collins left the game with a back injury, and recorded a career-high three tackles in the game. He played nine snaps Sunday against Tampa Bay with both Rouse and Collins leaving the game in the fourth quarter with injuries.

"I feel very comfortable and I'm looking forward to seeing him play," secondary coach Kurt Schottenheimer said. "He's got some very good athletic ability. No anxiety whatsoever. I think he can make some plays for us.

"He really reacted well last week with things and did really a good job in responding."

For a player that joined the team off waivers in '06 from the N.Y. Giants and has been primarily a special teams contributor to this point in his career, Peprah said it is hard for him to temper his anticipation for Sunday.

"I'm excited because as far as I have come, I know I have so much more to go," Peprah said. "You hate to use the word 'potential', but I'm excited about where I am right now with learning the scheme, and hopefully I just keep improving and making plays."

Montgomery readies for debut

One player on defense who is expected to make his first NFL start is defensive end Michael Montgomery, who will open up on the right side in place of Cullen Jenkins. Jenkins was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.

It will be the first start for the fourth-year player since his senior campaign at Texas A&M. Montgomery saw his most extensive action of the season last Sunday at Tampa Bay as part of the defensive line rotation, and posted a season-high five tackles.

"It's not a big difference to me," Montgomery said. "The only thing that is different to me is I'm going to be starting, I'm going to be playing the first play.

"This is what everybody works for individually, to go out and play and be a starter. I'm real excited."

While Montgomery will get the starting nod Sunday, McCarthy said the team will continue to rotate other linemen in the game, which could include rookie defensive end Jeremy Thompson and newly-signed defensive end Kenny Pettway. McCarthy said Wednesday that defensive end Jason Hunter, who sustained a hamstring injury at Tampa Bay, "won't make it this week."

{sportsad300}Lots of reps for Flynn

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers did not participate in practice on Thursday as he continues to rehab his sprained right shoulder in hopes of playing against Atlanta this Sunday.

With Rodgers sidelined, McCarthy said the focus was on getting rookie Matt Flynn as many reps as possible with the No. 1 offense in case he is called upon to start Sunday.

"I wanted to make sure that today Matt felt very comfortable, and actually practiced very well," McCarthy said. "He did a nice job in the two-minute. We scored down there with a couple seconds left.

"He had a nice practice today. That was the focus, and we'll see where Aaron is tomorrow. But once again, even after tomorrow's practice, you still have another 48 hours before kickoff, so we do have some time."

McCarthy said No. 3 quarterback Brian Brohm also took some limited reps with the first unit Thursday.

Injury/participation update

In addition to Rouse and Rodgers, fullback Korey Hall (knee), defensive end Jason Hunter (hamstring), running back Kregg Lumpkin (hamstring) and cornerback Charles Woodson (toe) did not participate.

Bigby, tackle Chad Clifton (knees), linebacker A.J. Hawk (groin) and defensive tackle Ryan Pickett (knee) were limited.

Collins (back) returned to full participation after being limited on Wednesday. Wide receiver James Jones (knee) was also a full participant for the second straight day.

For Atlanta, defensive tackle Jason Jefferson (ankle) and wide receiver Laurent Robinson (knee) did not participate, and tackle Sam Baker (illness), defensive tackle Grady Jackson (knee), safety Lawyer Milloy (rib) and tackle Todd Weiner (knee) were limited.

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