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Packers notes: Peprah has pep in step

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- If and when the Green Bay Packers activate strong safety Atari Bigby to the 53-man roster, he might have a hard time getting his job back.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- If and when the Green Bay Packers activate strong safety Atari Bigby to the 53-man roster, he might have a hard time getting his job back.

That's because Charlie Peprah isn't going to give up his starting spot without a fight, if his performance during a 9-0 victory over the New York Jets at Meadowlands Stadium Sunday afternoon is any indication.

Peprah had key pass breakups on back-to-back series late in the game to help the defense preserve its shutout.

"He played very, very well today," Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said of Peprah, who made his fourth straight start. "He made some timely plays, breaks on the ball, nice hits. I think he played a good football game for us."

Peprah broke up a pass intended for Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery on a fourth-and-8 play that started at the Green Bay 35-yard line with just over 4 minutes left in the game.

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On the Jets' next series, he had a big hit that knocked the ball loose from Cotchery for an incompletion on third-and-5. An incompletion on the next play ended New York's hopes of a rally.

"I'm still a work in progress," Peprah said. "I just try to focus on getting better every week, trying to match the level of Charles (Woodson) and Tramon (Williams) and Nick (Collins) and those guys in the back end, so there's definitely some good things I can take out of this game and some things I can correct.

"The main thing is just keep on improving. It's a long season and I just try to get as polished as I can and just make plays."

Peprah moved into the starting lineup when Morgan Burnett suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 4 against Detroit. Burnett was inserted as a starter immediately as a rookie because Bigby was out with an ankle injury.

Bigby spent the first six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list. He's been practicing the last two weeks and Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he's close to returning.

Does Peprah feel he deserves to remain the starter if Bigby returns?

"I feel like I made my share of plays, but that's not really for me to decide," Peprah said. "I just focus on going out there and just try to contribute. Whatever they ask of me, that's what I'm going to do."

Fake fails

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The brash Ryan is the type of coach who would call a fake punt on fourth-and-18, but it wasn't his decision to do so in the first quarter.

Punter Steve Weatherford called the fake himself and came up one yard short after a 17-yard gain. Weatherford was initially awarded the first down, but the Packers challenged the spot and the play was reversed.

Green Bay took over at the New York 36 and ended up moving into position for a field goal by Mason Crosby.

"It would have been a good decision had it been fourth-and-nine," Weatherford said. "I made the decision to try to make the play, but it didn't work out for the team. We're a team that's willing to go out there and lay it on the line, but it just didn't work out today."

The Jets would have been facing a fourth-and-9 had Packers linebacker Brandon Chillar not sacked Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez for a 9-yard loss on third down.

"We knew what they were doing," Ryan said. "They were caving that side down. This was something Steve did on his own. I don't think he realized we'd just been sacked. We told him before that it needed to be a manageable situation, not fourth-and-20 or whatever it was."

Weatherford would have made the first down marker with plenty of room to spare if not for a hustling move by Green Bay's Anthony Smith, who dived and knocked Weatherford's left foot out of bounds.

"I kind of second-guessed myself, like, 'Does he really have the ball?' " Smith said. "I just tried to clip his legs before he got the first down."

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From the infirmary

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers injured his left ankle midway through the fourth quarter while trying to avoid a sack. Rodgers stopped and his left leg came down awkwardly before he fired a pass out of bounds.

"I think (I was) more embarrassed than hurt about the fact that I'm not athletic enough to ... that I hurt myself without anybody around me," Rodgers said. "But I just got it taped up and I was able to finish the game."

Defensive end Cullen Jenkins, who was questionable with a calf injury, played about 20 snaps.

"It was sore," Jenkins said. "It definitely wasn't 100 percent. I noticed some plays out there where I just couldn't turn the corner as fast as I usually can. I feel like I left some plays out there because of being hampered a little. But it was (good) enough to go out there and compete.

Wide receiver Donald Lee (quadriceps), cornerback Pat Lee (ankle) and tight end Andrew Quarless (shoulder) left the game with injuries.

-- Copyright (c) 2010, The Wisconsin State Journal/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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