Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 11/3/11
GREEN BAY, Wis. Green Bay Packers safety Nick Collins isnt talking like a player who expects to play football again.The neck injury Collins suffered in Week 2 not only cost him the rest of this season but has the 28-year-old preparing for a premature end to his NFL career.Its been a great ride for me, Collins said Wednesday. The success that Ive had over these past years that Ive been here, thats just gratifying enough.Two months ago, it was a much different story for Collins. He had been to three consecutive Pro Bowls and was coming off a Super Bowl-winning season.Now, he just wants to get a head start on building his coaching resume a process that has already begun. Collins has stayed in Green Bay since his injury and has been helping coach the secondary during practice.Its giving me a great experience to prepare for when I do decide to retire from this game, Collins said. I want to become a coach. (Now) Ill have more upside to wherever I go to coach, and they can look at it and say, OK, he was on the sideline doing this, coaching these guys. Its just uplifting for me.Collins still acts like a member of the Packers active roster. He comes into the locker room after practice with all of the players and changes at his same locker.There are not even any noticeable differences in Collins physically. He moves around normally and was able to shed his neck brace last Friday.Im free, Collins said, referring to the neck brace being removed. Im a free man. Im out of prison.He even feels the same.I really dont have any pain, Collins said. Thats the crazy thing about this whole situation. Since the injury happened, I really didnt suffer from any pain besides when I had the surgery, and that only lasted for a couple days.Collins underwent neck surgery in late September and wore a neck brace for about one month.The biggest difference may be in the tone of his voice. Because the operation was near his larynx, Collins believes it affected the way he talks.But Collins is able to engage in some physical activity. Hes riding bikes, working out on an elliptical machine and even doing some light weight lifting although no lifting over his head.Much of that sounds encouraging for a possible return, but its nothing close to putting on a helmet and laying hits on wide receivers down the middle of the field.I just have to take small steps, and not try to rush anything, Collins said. Thats all I can do right now. Its going to be a long process. Its going to take time.Many injured players go through a moment of wondering why they had such bad luck and misfortune. For Collins, that didnt happen right away.Once I started going out there on the field, missing the game, being around the players, but where Im in a position where I cant help those guys, thats when it crossed my mind: Why? Collins said.Though it wasnt the way Collins wanted his season to go, hes already trying to make the best of it. Hell be with the Packers on their trip to San Diego on Sunday and hopes he can continue to travel with the team all season.Until they say, We think you need to just take a break, youre kind of interfering with the team, Collins said. I dont think these guys mind me being there. They look at me as a leader. I have a lot of experience, a lot of games under my belt. Thats the quality that I have to help these young guys be successful. Thats pretty much my role now.I get to see the game from a whole different side. Its amazing how fast the game is from not being out there and just on the sideline looking at it.Follow Paul Imig on Twitter
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