GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Key injuries and a roster shake-up have created early uncertainty at both safety positions for the Green Bay Packers.
"It's been a grind, it's been pressure-filled," safeties coach Darren Perry admitted after practice Friday.
The Packers lost both of their opening-day starters in the first two games, but Nick Collins has made a quick recovery from a chest injury and is expected to play Sunday at St. Louis. Collins is listed as probable for the game.
"I think Nick's done a good job (this week)," coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's a painful injury. (But) I look for him to go on Sunday."
McCarthy also said Derrick Martin would make the start at the other safety spot. Martin, who was acquired in a trade with Baltimore Ravens before the season, will be the third Green Bay player to start at strong safety in as many weeks.
Atari Bigby suffered a serious knee injury in the season opener and is out indefinitely. Aaron Rouse replaced Bigby last Sunday but was cut by the team three days later.
"It's a great opportunity for me," Martin said.
Martin's promotion has been part of a memorable week for the fourth-year player. His wife, Alexa, gave birth to the couple's second child, a girl, Monday at a Green Bay hospital, about 12 hours after the Packers' 31-24 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Lambeau Field.
Martin said that he was on call during the game, awaiting word that his wife had gone into labor.
"Actually, I got a call from upstairs from the special-teams coach," Martin said. "I thought that was THE call. It kind of scared me a little bit, but it wasn't. We were able to wait and hold off for a little bit."
With baby and wife resting at home the last few days, Martin has been able to focus on the football task at hand this weekend.
The coaches have praised Martin for being a quick study in the Packers' 3-4 defensive scheme, which is similar to what he played with Baltimore.
"I've been impressed with him physically what he's done on special teams," McCarthy said. "(He's) very bright (and has) a lot of carry-over from our language to his experience in Baltimore. So, he is ready to go."
The coaches also spent this week trying to get another new safety up to speed in the defense.
Veteran free agent Matt Giordano was signed Wednesday to replace Rouse on the roster. Giordano likely will be used on special teams, but could contribute on defense in a pinch.
"With our two new guys, there's some uncertainty, and you're on the hope theory a little bit," Perry said. "But, from what we've seen, we feel like we've got some guys that we can win with and get the job done."
The forecast that Collins, a Pro Bowl player in 2008, should be available to start at free safety Sunday eases what was shaping up to be a dire situation. He was knocked out of last week's game in the second quarter with what was later diagnosed as a clavicle injury.
"I'm just thankful nothing bad happened and I'm able to try to get ready for this game," Collins said. "It's a blessing. The guys in the training room are doing a nice job getting me healthy."
NOTES: McCarthy said rookie DT B.J. Raji "tweaked" an ankle injury in practice Thursday. Raji was a full participant in practice Friday, but he is questionable for Sunday. The team's top draft pick has yet to play in a regular-season game. ... Ruled out for the game are Bigby, LT Chad Clifton (ankle) and RB Brandon Jackson (ankle). ... McCarthy said FB John Kuhn had some ball-carrying work in practice as an emergency halfback behind Ryan Grant and DeShawn Wynn. FB Korey Hall is questionable because of a concussion and a shoulder injury.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)