Green Bay Packers’ Peprah keeps believing : Packers Insider

Green Bay Packers’ Peprah keeps believing

November 11, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Nov 11, 2010 ~ by Gary D’Amato

~Green Bay — Charlie Peprah always believed in his heart that he could play in the National Football League.

His career path suggested otherwise:

Drafted by the New York Giants in the fifth round in 2006 and cut before the season started. Signed with Green Bay and spent three years fighting for a roster spot and playing on special teams. Reached an injury settlement with the Packers in 2009 and was waived. Signed by Atlanta, where he played in two games in ’09 before being shown the door again.

If there was a message, it wasn’t getting through to Peprah.

"He has gotten better every week," said head coach Mike McCarthy. "He's an excellent communicator. He has done a very good job supporting the run. He does a very good job directing traffic back there as far as the calls."

“The best advice I’ve been given is, ‘Believe in yourself because if you don’t, no one else will,’ ” Peprah said. “I knew I could play. I just had to keep plugging along and make sure I was always ready.

“I never lost confidence in myself.”

Peprah re-signed with the Packers as a free agent in April and fought his way onto the roster again. At 5-foot-11 and 203 pounds, he was on the small side to play strong safety. At 27 years old and with precious little experience on defense  . . .  well, no one expected him to win the starting job anyway.

But there is a lot to like about Peprah. He works hard. He prepares well. He does everything by the book. He is reliable and consistent.

“A lot of the traits you look for at this level to be successful, he’s got them,” said Darren Perry, who coaches the Packers’ safeties. “He’s a pleasure to coach because you know what you’re going to get. I love the guy.”

Peprah played on special teams in the first two games this season and was inactive for Games 3 and 4 with a thigh injury. It was shaping up to be another season in which he would struggle just to keep his job.

Then rookie starter Morgan Burnett went down with a season-ending knee injury. Atari Bigby, the starter most of the last three years, already was on the physically unable to perform list with a bad ankle.

That left Charlie Peprah.

He stepped into the starting lineup against the Washington Redskins on Oct. 10 and after a shaky start has improved each week and has stabilized the position.

“I would say so far, it’s been solid,” Peprah said of his play. “I’d definitely like to get an interception or two as far as personal wants. But as long as the team is winning, I’m happy.”

With Peprah in the lineup, the Packers (6-3) won three consecutive games going into the bye week. He figured prominently in each victory.

Against Minnesota on Oct. 24, he participated in every defensive play and made seven solo tackles and broke up a pass. On the Vikings’ opening drive, he blew up a screen pass and dropped wide receiver Percy Harvin for a 3-yard loss on third down, forcing a punt and setting the tone in a 28-24 victory.

Against the New York Jets on Oct. 31, he had five tackles and a quarterback pressure in a 9-0 victory. He also broke up passes on consecutive Jets possessions in the fourth quarter, slapping the ball away from Jerricho Cotchery on fourth-and-8 at the Green Bay 35 and then dislodging Cotchery from the ball with a hard hit on what would been a big gain on second-and-5.

“I’m not the biggest guy, so you might not notice a lot of my hits,” Peprah said. “But I’ll stick my face in there.”

Against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, he drilled tight end Martellus Bennett for a 2-yard loss in the first quarter and added another solo tackle in the Packers’ 45-7 romp.

“If you look at Charlie’s size and some of the measurables, they may not be ideal,” Perry said. “But you know what? You throw that stuff out the window and look at what they do out on the football field and that’s the thing he’s doing right now that’s impressive.”

Bigby came off the PUP list last week and rotated with Peprah against the Cowboys. It will be tough to keep a healthy Bigby out of the lineup. But it also will be difficult for the coaches to keep Peprah off the field.

“Well, it’s a good problem to have,” Perry said. “Competition brings out the best in most people and I see this being no different.

“That might be a motivating factor for Charlie right now. He knows he’s got somebody waiting in the wings and wanting to get their job back and I think that’s probably a little part of his motivation, which is a good thing.”

Peprah, ever the good soldier, was noncommittal when asked how he thought things would shake out.

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