The Green Bay Packers' secondary hasn't been the same since Sept. 18, 2011. They were in Week 2 of a title defense when safety Nick Collins was carted off after a neck injury. He never played another game.
The Packers finished with the NFL's worst pass defense in 2011 and gave up huge chunks of yards through the air on a weekly basis. The pass defense improved in 2012, but things still aren't the same as young talent tries replacing a three-time Pro-bowl selection.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy talked about the loss at the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix.
"Nick's a great player. That's one (where), I don't think (general manager) Ted (Thompson) will ever get over that one," McCarthy said Wednesday, according to ESPN Wisconsin's Jason Wilde. "That's one we talk about quite often, but hey you have to move on. You're talking about a guy that was probably in the middle of a Hall of Fame career."
Collins had everything you wanted in a safety -- speed, instincts, cover skills and physicality. Somehow he remained underrated -- if that's possible for a consistent Pro Bowl selection in his prime. Collins and teammate Morgan Burnett were developing into one of the top safety tandems in the NFL.
McCarthy and Thompson have every right to wonder what could have been.