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The Green Bay Packers and Nick Collins should be reaching a decision very soon on whether Collins can continue his NFL career in 2012. Collins was lost for the season after suffering a neck injury in the second game of the 2011 NFL campaign.
Nick Collins had to have cervical fusion surgery, a procedure in which one of the discs is removed and a bone graft is taken from his hip and put in his neck. His injury occurred between the C-3 and C-4 vertebrae.
I had the same type of procedure done on my neck, although my doctor used a bone graft from the bone bank. My injury occurred between the C-5 and C-6 vertebrae.
Other players in the NFL have had cervical fusion surgery and have been able to resume an NFL career. It certainly appears that Peyton Manning will be one of those players in 2012 with the Denver Broncos.
Mike Alstott of the Tampa Bay Bucs had the procedure done in 2003, and he was able to play three more years after that. There wasn't any back in the NFL who was more physical than Alstott, either. He loved to lower his head and run through tacklers.
The Packers know that they have a great player in Collins.
Collins is a three-time All-Pro and has also been selected to play in three Pro Bowls. He has 21 career interceptions, including four TDs, and also had a key interception return for a TD in Super Bowl XLV.
Collins was the second player ever selected by Thompson in the draft, as he was picked in the second round of the 2005 NFL draft, after Aaron Rodgers was selected in the first round.
The loss of Collins for almost the entire 2011 season had a severe effect on the pass defense of the Packers. Green Bay finished dead last in pass defense in 2011, giving up almost 300 yards a game. Communication issues were apparent, as there were a number of blown coverages.
The decision of letting Collins play won't be an easy one.
Mike McCarthy talked about the situation regarding Collins almost three weeks ago. McCarthy was quoted as telling Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com, “If Nick was my son, I would not let him play.”
If the surgeon who did the procedure on Collins clears him to play, then there will be a discussion among the various parties involved, including the surgeon, team doctors, Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and Collins himself.
If the parties agree that Collins can continue his NFL career with no additional risk of injury to his neck, then it will play a key part in the draft strategy of the Packers.
If Collins is cleared to play, I would still expect the Packers to select a safety for quality depth reasons, but the need would not be so prominent.