Green Bay Packers  

 

Concerns at safety lead Packers to release Rouse, sign Giordano

  • By Associated Press
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Walking toward his new locker in Lambeau Field, Matt Giordano had to quickly glance up at the nameplate to make sure he was in the right spot.

As of Wednesday morning, Giordano was in and Aaron Rouse was out -- the latest surprise shake-up to the Green Bay Packers' secondary. And by Sunday's game in St. Louis, Giordano needs to be ready to play for his new team in an unfamiliar scheme.

"It's definitely an opportunity," said Giordano, who played with the Indianapolis Colts the previous four seasons. "But the thing that I've got to do right now is just retain as much information, know the defense as quickly as possible and just execute my assignment right now."

There are few, if any, teams more solid at cornerback than the Packers. Charles Woodson, Al Harris and Tramon Williams are perhaps the best coverage trio in the league.

But safety is a different story for Green Bay. And, surprisingly, it's one that's still evolving more than two weeks into the regular season.

The Packers came into 2009 with a familiar starting safety tandem, Nick Collins and Atari Bigby. But Bigby hurt his knee during a Week 1 victory over the NFC North rival Chicago Bears and is expected to miss at least one month. Then Collins sustained a chest injury during last Sunday's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, and his availability for this Sunday's meeting with the Rams remains unclear.

And the group backing up Bigby and Rouse has been anything but stable.

The Packers signed former Pittsburgh Steeler Anthony Smith in the offseason but cut him at the end of training camp. They traded offensive lineman Tony Moll to the Baltimore Ravens for defensive back Derrick Martin.

And with the surprise release of Rouse, a third-round pick by the Packers in 2007, Martin could start alongside Collins on Sunday, with Jarrett Bush and Giordano in reserve and Woodson able to move from corner to safety in an emergency.

That's assuming Collins, who was limited in Wednesday's practice, will be ready to play.

"He was out there today," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I anticipate Nick will play, but the week will answer that question."

Aaron Rouse , SS

Career Statistics
Games/Starts: 27/10
Tackles: 90
Interceptions: 4
Touchdowns: 1

Rouse started Sunday's game in place of Bigby but sustained a neck stinger, the latest in a series of nagging injuries for a player who might lack some of the instinct it takes to play safety in the NFL.

"I just felt that his ability to be consistent and the growth part of it is one of the reasons that we made the change," McCarthy said of Rouse. "But there are other factors involved."

The move definitely raised eyebrows in the locker room.

"It goes to show right now they're not stopping the train for anybody," linebacker Nick Barnett said. "They want to see results, and we've got to get results. ... I'm sure that's not a scare tactic, it's just the direction they wanted to go."

Giordano played in 55 games for the Colts, including six starts. He has close ties to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a college teammate at California -- and a junior-college opponent before that.

Giordano played at Fresno City, the only team to beat Rodgers' Butte College team in 2002.

Matt Giordano , DB
Green Bay Packers

Career Statistics
Games/Starts: 45/6
Tackles: 80
Interceptions: 3

"It's funny, though, because we put up 600 yards of offense against them and still lost the game," Rodgers said. "So I remind him of that every time he reminds me they were the only team to beat us."

Giordano reintroduced himself by picking off a Rodgers pass in practice Wednesday.

"I thanked him for that, and he told me, 'Be quiet,'" Giordano said.

Notes: Aaron Kampman practiced with a club-like wrap on his right hand Wednesday, but McCarthy said the linebacker just has a bruise. Kampman said he didn't anticipate playing with the wrap Sunday. ... The Packers signed OT Dane Randolph to their practice squad to replace Jamon Meredith, who was signed by the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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