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Packers safety Collins to miss several weeks with left knee injury

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Packers safety Nick Collins will miss several games with a knee injury after making an awkward tackle, leaving little experience among Green Bay's safeties.

"We all figured the worst the way he went down," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. "It's going to be at least a couple of weeks."

Collins sprained a ligament in his left knee on Sunday in Green Bay's 33-22 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs as the Packers improved to 7-1. Collins was injured while tackling wide receiver Samie Parker early in the third quarter. As Collins collided with Parker, Collins' knee was bent back.

Collins, a third-year safety who has started all 40 games in his career, had an MRI done that revealed no damage, but he struggled to bend his knee after the game and had crutches.

"I got a little tangled up trying to make a play, my feet got stuck in the ground and I got twisted up," Collins said after the game.

McCarthy said Collins would not need surgery.

"Everybody saw it, it looked a lot worse on film," McCarthy said. "The evaluation was actually positive, the MRI was positive."

Rookie Aaron Rouse is expected to take Collins' spot in the lineup after filling in for the rest of the game against the Chiefs.

"If he has to go, we feel very confident," McCarthy said. "We'll be fine."

Rouse joins safety Atari Bigby, in his second season, on a team that's one of the youngest in the league despite 30-something cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson. Bigby has eight career starts, all this season.

Rouse, a third-round pick, missed a chunk of the preseason because of a hamstring injury, while Charlie Peprah also has limited experience at safety.

"Right now, Atari doesn't have a lot of experience, Charlie and now Aaron, but hey, we like the talent level that they have," defensive backs coach Kurt Schottenheimer said. "The way they're going to get better is have them out there playing, so this is an opportunity for them."

McCarthy said the biggest worry is making sure there's not a drop in communication between his safeties.

"It's all part of it," McCarthy said. "As long as they're communicating and taking the gray area out of their decision-making, based on their checks and everything, I think he'll be fine. That's the hard part."

Penalties have been a problem for the entire unit, and Green Bay has been flagged 26 times in the past two games, with 13 of those against the secondary.

"Some of them, you don't know what to tell your defensive players," McCarthy said. "We're not going to change the way we play. That's the way we play, that's who we are. We're always going to err on the side of being physical."

The Packers employ an aggressive bump-and-run defensive scheme.

"We teach the technique, get your hands inside, every single day, and we'll continue to do that. But I can't deny the penalties and the number of yards that we've given up is a concern," McCarthy said.

Collins' injury comes at a bad time.

Known for his ability to shut down dynamic running backs like New Orleans' Reggie Bush and Philadelphia's Brian Westbrook, Collins will not be able to face off with Vikings running back Adrian Peterson for the second time this season on Sunday after Peterson ran for 112 yards on 12 carries in Green Bay's 23-16 victory on Sept. 30.

"I wish Nick was playing, but I tell you what, I've got confidence in Aaron, I've got confidence in Charlie," Schottenheimer said. "They're our people. It's not a one-man game. We've got a football team, and collectively, we've got to pull together."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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