The Packers may have listed Nick Collins as questionable for Sunday’s game, but there’s little question as to whether the Pro Bowl safety will play against the Giants. As has been the case in all but three games since 2005, Collins will be be in the starting lineup when the defense takes its first snap. The former Bethune-Cookman star makes headlines – not to mention a heck of a lot of money – with his ballhawking skills, but it’s his willingness to play through injuries that earns him the most respect inside 1265 Lombardi Avenue. Collins wouldn’t let a painful knee sprain keep him out of the lineup in early October, so the odds of him missing with biggest game of the season with sore ribs are about the same as a mother giving Brett Favre access to her teenage daughter’s cell phone number. It ain’t going to happen.
In other injury news, Frank Zombo is listed as doubtful with a sprained knee. The rookie linebacker was unable to practice all week. His backup, Erik Walden, is also hurting. The third-year pro from Middle Tennessee State bruised his quad against New England. If neither Zombo nor Walden can play, Robert Francois would likely get the nod and thus become the fifth player to start at right outside linebacker this season.
Coach Mike McCarthy didn’t rule out making a roster move at linebacker before Sunday’s game. And while the team could easily open up a spot by releasing third-string quarterback Graham Harrell, their aren’t many attractive options to take his place. It’s too late to sign someone off the street and practice squad players Mike Rivera and Curtis Young wouldn’t offer much immediate help. The former is primarily an inside linebacker and the latter was playing in the UFL a few months ago. More than likely, McCarthy and GM Ted Thompson will maintain the status quo and keep their fingers crossed that Walden and fellow outside linebacker Diyral Briggs (ankle) can gut it out on Sunday.
As far as the Giants are concerned, Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith (knee/IR) and defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka (neck/IR) are the only key starters who won’t be available. Wide receiver Mario Manningham, defensive end Osi Umenyiora, left tackle David Diehl and center Shaun O’Hara are all listed as probable.