Charlie Peprah back again and better than ever for the Green Bay Packers
Nov 26, 2010 ~ by Rob Reischel, Journal Sentinel
~Green Bay — There were those in Charlie Peprah’s world that thought he was nuts.
Peprah had been in Green Bay. He had done that. And the results weren’t ideal, as the Packers waived him three days before the 2009 season opener.
So as Peprah tried figuring out his next landing spot in April, many were perplexed as to why the strong safety tried hooking on with the Packers again.
“Some people did wonder that,” Peprah said. “But I felt I had a chance to make the team, and I knew when my opportunity came, I would be prepared and try to take advantage of it.”
Boy, has he ever.
Peprah made the team, and then moved into the starting lineup in Week 5 after rookie Morgan Burnett suffered a torn ACL. Peprah hasn’t been flashy, just extremely reliable.
And barring anything unforeseen, Peprah seems like a good bet to keep the job even though Atari Bigby – a three-year starter at the position – came off the physically unable to perform list two games ago.
“You’re not going to take a guy out who’s been playing well in there,” Packer defensive coordinator Dom Capers said when asked of Peprah’s future. “I think (Peprah) has played well.”
That’s thrilling for Peprah, who has tried making his mark with the Packers and the NFL for quite some time.
The story of how he got here is even more intriguing.
Peprah’s grandfather, Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, rose to power as the head of state in the West African nation of Ghana in 1972. He was removed from office in a coup and executed in 1979.
The family fled to Europe and then to the U.S., where Peprah was born and raised in Texas.
Peprah says his family’s story is real to him, even though he was born after the most traumatic part of it.
“You know, I didn’t get to meet my grandfather, so from that aspect, there’s a little bit of a disassociation of emotional ties,” Peprah said. “But knowing what my mom went through and the whole journey she took and where we’re at because of all that is very real.
“It affected how I was raised, why I was brought up the way I was and where I was, so it’s something we talk about all the time.”
Peprah was a fifth-round draft pick by the New York Giants in 2006 out of Alabama but was waived before the season began. The Packers signed Peprah, and over the next three seasons, he played in 37 games, with almost all of his work coming on special teams.
Green Bay waived Peprah before the 2009 season, and he signed with Atlanta. Peprah battled knee and hamstring injuries, though, and played in just two games with the Falcons.
Atlanta chose not to make Peprah an offer in the off-season, leaving Peprah to map out his next landing spot. When the Packers called, they had just drafted Burnett and many thought Peprah was better off waiting for another offer.
But there was a lot about Green Bay that Peprah liked, and he decided to take a chance with a system and coaching staff he enjoyed.
“I liked the defensive scheme, and I liked the coaches that coach (Mike) McCarthy had here,” Peprah said. “The fact they had just taken the rookie (Burnett) made it a little bit harder to decide. But you know this is a special place, and if I had the opportunity, I wanted to come back. I’m glad I did, and it’s worked out in my favor.”
It sure has, but the ride has had a bump, or two.
Peprah immediately proved in his first start that he was more physical than Burnett. But he gave up a pair of passes totaling 100 yards against Washington, including a 48-yard touchdown that changed the game’s flow.
“I wasn’t worried about what was going to happen,” Peprah said. “Just had to come back and respond.”
Peprah was terrific in run support against Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson in a Week 7 win. Peprah also was extremely physical against the run during the Packers’ upset of the New York Jets in Week 8.
Peprah seems to have a bad play or two in the passing game each week. But he has done nothing to lose his job.
“He can cover. He’s physical. He has the physical tools to play safety, and he’s smart,” cornerback Tramon Williams said. “The guy’s been doing a great job for us. We all knew what he could do from the start. It’s all about getting chances in this league. He got it and he’s taking advantage of it.”
Peprah admits there were times this past off-season he never thought he’d get this kind of chance. NFL teams had almost no tape of Peprah playing from scrimmage, and his dreams of being a starting safety in the league were slipping away.
“Your confidence as a player, in your ability, never really leaves,” said Peprah, a former Alabama standout who holds a master’s degree in financial planning. “It’s just more the uncertainty knowing it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.
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