Packers' hidden treasure: Safety

Examining a position group that could exceed its preseason expectations:

The Green Bay Packers bid farewell this spring to Nick Collins, one of this generation's best safeties, because of a neck injury. Collins' absence was at least part of the reason the Packers allowed more passing yards in 2011 than any team in NFL history, but some intriguing options were brewing this spring.

First, the Packers won't be afraid to use veteran Charles Woodson in a safety-like position alongside Morgan Burnett in their base defense. In the nickel and dime schemes, the Packers have a better balance than outsiders might realize.

Rookie Jerron McMillian will challenge for a starting job at some point, but the Packers don't have to rush him onto the field right away. Veteran Charlie Peprah has gotten starter playing time in each of the past two seasons, and is a solid insurance plan. And the offseason emergence of second-year player M.D. Jennings gives the Packers a sense of competition they might not have had otherwise.