If Nick Collins is forced to retire because of his neck injury, Charles Woodson will not be his replacement at safety. Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said the veteran corner will not be making the switch, despite widespread speculation to the contrary.
“I think the closer Charles is to the ball the more dangerous he is and more impact he has to the offense,” McCarthy said at the NFL combine. “He’s the most instinctive defensive player I’ve ever been around.”
Although Woodson’s days as a shutdown cornerback are behind him, he’s still a solid defender. The Packers used him most effectively to cover slot receivers and tight ends in 2011 and he was also solid against the run.
Woodson’s weakness in recent seasons has been matching up with faster outside receivers, which would make the move to safety reasonable. The Packers have no interest in putting Woodson in those matchups, though. Instead, they’ve used Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and Jarrett Bush to cover outside receivers, to varying degrees of success.
McCarthy is also quick to talk up his young safeties, particularly M.D. Jennings, who was an undrafted rookie last season, and Anthony Levine, who’s spent two seasons on the practice squad.
While that’s all well and good, we fully expect the Packers to draft a safety relatively high if they find out Collins can’t return. Counting on Jennings or Levine to take over a position where Charlie Peprah was largely a failure in 2011 is a lot to ask.