PALM BEACH, Fla. – Even if Nick Collins gets medical clearance to resume his football career when he has his neck reexamined later this week, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy isn’t entirely comfortable with the idea of the three-time Pro Bowl safety returning to the football field.
McCarthy, speaking at the annual NFL Meetings at The Breakers Sunday, said that Collins received encouraging news at his last exam and could be cleared when he is re-checked later in the week. Collins’ agent, Alan Herman, said last week that his client would see Dr. Frank Camissa, who performed the single-spinal fusion surgery following Collins’ injury at Carolina on Sept 18, at the end of the week. Packers team physician Dr. Patrick McKenzie will also be involved in the evaluation.
“I’ll tell you what Dr. Pat McKenzie told me: It’s something they feel very good about based on the last exam, and if he has a good chance just the way he’s progressing … but you don’t know,” McCarthy said. “(McKenzie) said it’s either yes or no.”
But when asked what he would say if Collins were his son, McCarthy made his position clear, saying, “If Nick was my son, I would not let him play.”
Collins was injured when he attempted to make a tackle on Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart and jammed his neck on the back of Stewart’s thigh. The hit in no way seemed particularly violent, but Collins did not get up from it.
“That’s probably one of the worst parts of your job (as a coach), walking out on the field, looking over a player – especially when it didn’t look very serious, and then you get out there …” McCarthy said, his voice trailing off. “I don’t want to be put in that position again. And this is not about me. I’m just talking about, if that was my son, If Nick was my son, I would not let him play.”
That said, McCarthy said the decision the doctors make will be in Collins’ best interest and the Packers will not put him at risk.
“Dr. Pat McKenzie and our medical staff, they’re conservative by nature. I think if you ask anybody who’s gone through our program and worked in other places, they’d say, ‘Hey, they do a good job taking care of their players. They’re conservative,’” McCarthy said. “”We’re not going to put him in harm’s way. If he’s on the field, he’ll be cleared, he’ll be 100 percent and everybody will be comfortable with it.”
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