Charlie Peprah failed to adequately replace Nick Collins at safety last season.
Somebody else will get a chance this season.
In a surprising day-before-training-camp transaction, the Packers released Peprah. Peprah started 14 games last season and finished second on the team with four interceptions. However, he allowed 34 receptions for 465 yards last season, figures that ranked fifth and third, respectively, among safeties. Those totals don’t include the 66-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks in the playoffs, in which Peprah bounced off Nicks around midfield. His lack of elite athleticism hurt him in coverage and occasionally in getting in position to make tackles. Having turned 29 in February, he isn’t getting any faster.
Peprah missed the offseason practices because of minor knee surgery. Safeties coach Darren Perry didn’t seem worried by Peprah’s absence and pointed to the additional reps for second-year player M.D. Jennings and rookies Jerron McMillian (fourth round), Sean Richardson (undrafted) and Micah Pellerin (undrafted).
“Charlie’s a pro, a veteran guy,” Perry said during organized team activities. “He’s gotten thousands of reps. We kind of know what Charlie is. The good thing is that those young guys get a lot more reps. They get an opportunity to experience it firsthand, get the calls communicated, try to get as comfortable as possible. They really have to have a good understanding and good poise to go out and execute. This has been good for them. It’s been a real positive experience. We just have to keep moving forward with them.”
Jennings started alongside Morgan Burnett throughout the offseason and figures to be with the first unit when camp opens on Thursday. The transaction opens the door for McMillian, Richardson, Pellerin and Anthony Levine – a first-year player entering his third training camp – to make the roster and push for a starting position.
Peprah’s release also leaves the Packers incredibly young. Levine is the graybeard of the unit at 24. Burnett, entering his third season in the league and with 20 starts to his credit, is 23 – the same as Jennings, McMillian and Pellerin. Richardson is 22.
In other transactions, the Packers released guard Grant Cook, an undrafted free agent out of Arkansas who was signed after trying out at the rookie camp, and signed guard Greg Van Roten. Van Roten (6-3, 203) was a three-year starter at left tackle for Pennsylvania and was a two-time all-Ivy League first-team choice.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.