1) Introduction: Over the last two and half decades, the number 36 has been kind to the safety position in Green Bay. LeRoy Butler was an All-Pro wearing the number during the Packers’ run in the 1990′s, and Nick Collins has now established himself as one of the NFL’s top game-breakers at the position with the same two digits. In six seasons leading into 2011, Collins amassed 22 interceptions, six defensive touchdowns and three Pro Bowl appearances.
Weight: 207 lbs.
3) Expectations coming into the season: High. Collins was a Pro Bowler in each of the last three seasons (2008-10) and was expected to continue an All-Pro level of play at the backend of the Packers defense. There was nothing to suggest a drop off in production for a 28-year-old in his football prime.
4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: There wasn’t many on either end. On Collins’ 132nd snap of the season in Carolina, an attempted tackle on a leaping Jonathan Stewart resulted in a neck injury that would require a season-ending cervical fusion. It is a similar procedure to the one that knocked Peyton Manning out for the entire 2011 season. During the two games Collins did play, however, the Packers gave up over 400 yards passing to both Drew Brees and Cam Newton.
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: The injury cut Collins’ season short after just two weeks, and it was painfully obvious from that point on how much the Packers secondary missed his presence. Collins was a leader who the cornerbacks trusted to cover up mistakes and gambles. While Collins’ two games weren’t pretty in pass defense, there’s no way the Packers wouldn’t have been better off with their Pro Bowl safety playing 16 games. Despite successful surgery, Collins’ future in the NFL is now in jeopardy. We’ll know sometime in March if he can ever play again.
6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Collins was put on IR before Week 3.
Season Report Card:
(Inc) Level of expectations met during the season
(Inc) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(N/A) Contributions to team during the playoffs
Overall Grade: Incomplete——————
Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.
You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.Follow @zachkruse2