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Peprah Excited For Another Chance With Green Bay


For a player like Charlie Peprah, who has moved around through three different organizations in his four-year NFL career, the hardest thing about trying to stick around in this league is getting adjusted to a new system, a new playbook and a new environment at each stop.

That's why Peprah couldn't have been more thrilled when he got a contract offer late last month from the Green Bay Packers, the team and organization he knows best.

A backup safety and special teams contributor, Peprah played three seasons for the Packers (2006-08) after being claimed off waivers from the New York Giants, the team that drafted him in '06. Last year Peprah injured his knee during training camp in Green Bay and was placed on injured reserve at roster reduction time, ultimately reaching an injury settlement that allowed him to sign with the Atlanta Falcons at midseason.

Peprah played only a couple of games with the Falcons and then was offered a minimum-salary contract to return rather than a free-agent tender. Then in April, he heard from his agent that the Packers were interested in bringing him back, and he jumped at the chance.

"It feels great," said Peprah, who officially signed on April 26, right after the draft. "It's like I don't have to adjust as much as I would if I were somewhere else. I'm already familiar with the defense. I can come in and join in right away. We'll see what happens, but I'm excited about my opportunity here."

The Packers know what they're getting in Peprah. He's a smart, assignment-sure safety who brings some experience to the special teams units. He played in 37 games with the Packers over three years, recording 21 tackles from scrimmage and 22 on coverage units.

Like many of the team's defensive players a year ago, he was fired up about the transition to Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme. But Peprah appeared in just one preseason game in '09, and for only a dozen snaps at that, before a knee strain the following week sidelined him for the rest of training camp.

That was one year after a significant hamstring injury during the first week of camp kept him out of all the preseason action in '08, though he still managed to make the team.

That's what makes this second opportunity in Green Bay so exciting for Peprah. He's in a familiar setting, but hoping that with good health he'll have more opportunities to prove his value.

"I think they know I'm a good player, but I feel like they don't know how good a player I can be," he said. "That's what's driving me right now is to stay healthy and show them. Get a whole preseason in and show them the plays I can make."

Peprah feels he can make some plays in Capers' defense. He said he likes the way it "attacks" offenses and tries to dictate the action, rather than the other way around.

Whether or not he can do enough to make the team again will be revealed in time. Nick Collins, Atari Bigby and rookie third-round draft choice Morgan Burnett are the team's top three safeties at the moment, with Peprah and fellow veteran Derrick Martin right behind them, and converted wide receiver Khalil Jones also in the mix.

But Peprah has been around long enough to know it's a waste of time to worry about the depth chart. Had he done that in the past, he never would have made it this far.

"My second year, my first training camp here (in '07), there were eight safeties - eight of us," Peprah said. "If you want to play the see-the-writing-on-the-wall game, I was like, 'Man, I'm outta here.' I wasn't getting a lot of reps.

"But I just had to focus on me. All I could focus on is what I could put on film and things like that. That's what I did and I made the team. That's all I can do, show them I'm ready to contribute any way I can."

Peprah's best path may be to show that he can upgrade the Packers' special teams. Out of necessity sometimes, return and coverage units in the NFL can end up filled with rookies and other young players who haven't played special teams since high school.

{sportsad300}But the Packers saw last year the impact a veteran can make on special teams once he learns the system, as Martin finished second on the team in coverage tackles last year after being acquired in a trade following training camp.

"Special teams takes experience, and you start to learn certain tricks -- what you can get away with, what you can't," Peprah said. "You start to understand returns better, and you see blocking schemes set up and know where they're going, so you can play faster.

"I think I can bring some consistency and veteran leadership on special teams."

And he could do so in a system he already knows. He doesn't have to learn a new one again, as he has twice in the past - the most difficult transition coming last year in Atlanta, when he joined the team in midseason and was working to get fully healthy as well as fit in at the same time.

It was a tough year for Peprah, and the fact that it ended with a hamstring tweak that kept him out of the final two games didn't help. But it didn't kill his career, and he's thankful for that, as well as thankful to be back in Green Bay.

"Seeing that side of it makes you realize you're lucky to be in the league, and you don't take it for granted," he said. "It's hard to stay in.

"But you just have to keep working, and right now, it's cool how it worked out."

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