Packers: Collins shows up but quiet about contract talks

GREEN BAY -- Nick Collins wasn't necessarily a happy camper Monday, but the Pro Bowl safety did show up for the first day of the Green Bay Packers' mandatory three-day minicamp, despite his unhappiness with his current contract.

GREEN BAY -- Nick Collins wasn't necessarily a happy camper Monday, but the Pro Bowl safety did show up for the first day of the Green Bay Packers' mandatory three-day minicamp, despite his unhappiness with his current contract.

And while he did take part in all the drills during the morning practice, Collins was a bit testy with reporters afterward and wouldn't rule out a training-camp holdout if the team doesn't sign him to an extension before the July 31 reporting date.

"We'll see," Collins said repeatedly. "I'm here now, so we'll see."

Collins skipped the team's voluntary offseason workouts (visiting with coaches only for a few days in May) and made only a cameo appearance during the recently completed organized team activity practices, but he reported for Monday's session knowing he could have been fined for missing the work.

Asked if he wouldn't be here if not for the threat of fines, Collins replied, "That's a good question. I really don't know."


Collins, 25, is entering the fifth and final year of the rookie contract he signed as a second-round pick out of Bethune-Cookman in 2005. He is set to make $3.045 million in 2009, but only because he achieved certain escalators in his rookie deal to boost his base salary from $545,000.

Named an NFC starter at safety for the Pro Bowl in February after registering 99 tackles and seven interceptions last season -- and returning three of those interceptions for touchdowns -- he has played and started 63 of 66 games during his four seasons, with 11 career interceptions.

While Collins wouldn't address his contract situation directly, his demeanor left no room for interpretation, unlike earlier this offseason, when he created some confusion about his absence during the team's annual Tailgate Tour bus tour around the state. Collins lost his father to a three-year battle with prostate cancer in May, and some were led to believe he was missing time to be with his ailing dad.

Although Collins did struggle to cope with his father's illness, his agent, David Butz, made it clear in mid-May that "despite any other issues or concerns, Nick would not be attending the offseason program -- regardless of any family matters." Butz could not be reached for comment Monday.

When asked directly about his unhappiness with his deal after Monday's practice, Collins replied, "I'm not here to talk about my contract. If you want to talk about my contract, talk to my agent."

Asked what he would do if the Packers tell him he'll have to play out the final year of his deal, Collins replied, "That's what I have to do. Like I said, that's out of my hands. I can't control what they think about me, what they're going to decide to do. All I can do is control what Nick Collins can control, and that's go out there and play football."

According to Packers coach Mike McCarthy, Collins has done a respectable job of keeping up with the new 3-4 defense despite his absences during the offseason program and OTAs, although McCarthy admitted he didn't keep a close eye on Collins on Monday.

Collins came to the final open OTA practice last Wednesday and took part in the jog-through period before joining the rehabilitation group, with the players coming back from injuries.


"I spent most of my time with the offense. But I know, visiting with Nick over the weekend and visiting with our training staff ... and they feel like he is in good shape," McCarthy said. "Nick has always been a conditioned athlete for us. We have never had an issue there, so I feel like he is in top of the physical part of it. He has a good understanding of the transition from the verbiage change, so he has been spending time in his book. You can see that, but it's definitely a challenge because all of those reps he missed, he has to make that up. We're confident he'll get that done."

McCarthy said he talked with Collins twice over the weekend and felt "like his heart and mind are in the right place and he wants to play some football."

Collins said he didn't feel he'd fallen too far behind in the new defense and expressed confidence he could catch up in time for training camp -- assuming he reports to it.

"Do I look behind?" Collins said. "Not at all. Every guy in this locker room knows what I'm capable of, the coaches (know, too). So I'm not worried about that. My main things is going out there, getting the communication down with my teammates, help this team win. Whatever the organization has in their plans, it's up to them. So I can't worry about that. Out of my control."

-- Copyright (c) 2009, The Wisconsin State Journal/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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