NFC North News

The Packers finally gave up on Jamal Reynolds; the former first-round pick was traded to Indianapolis after being a complete bust in Green Bay.

Green Bay Packers
In early March 2001 the Packers traded quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and the 17th selection in the first round to Seattle for the 10th pick in the first round and a third-round pick.

Later, general manager Ron Wolf revealed that he made the deal solely to get into position to select defensive end Jamal Reynolds, whom he was convinced wouldn't be there at 17.

The Packers' ill-fated choice of Reynolds came to a close this week when coach Mike Sherman traded him to Indianapolis for an undisclosed draft choice. Packers vice president Andrew Brandt said the pick wasn't conditional upon Reynolds making the Colts' final roster.

"We wish Jamal well," Brandt said. "A good guy. Everyone liked him as a person around here."

The problem was that Reynolds couldn't play. In three seasons, he finished with three sacks in 390 snaps, six knockdowns, 11 solo tackles and 1/2 tackle for loss.

He will go down with tackle Tony Mandarich, quarterback Rich Campbell, tackle John Michels and cornerback Terrell Buckley as the team's worst No. 1 picks in the last 25 years.

Reynolds never found a way to defeat tackles as a designated pass rusher and he was too small to hold up against the run. He wasn't fast enough to win around the edge and he wasn't skilled enough to come back inside on counter moves.

Two weeks in to his first training camp Reynolds suffered a left knee surgery that would require microfracture surgery in January 2002. Last August, Reynolds said his knee was 100 percent.

The emergence of Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila in the same right end role that Wolf and Sherman envisioned for Reynolds helped mitigate to an extent the failure of Reynolds. He became almost a forgotten man in Green Bay, active for just 22 out of a possible 53 games.

Reynolds was due a roster bonus of $217,250 on July 15. Now it will not have to be paid.

Now, however, the Packers will have to count $1.3 million in unamortized signing bonus for Reynolds against their cap this season.

News & Notes
--The Packers gave Steve Morley a $100,000 signing bonus this winter to leave the Canadian Football League. Through minicamps, he was their No. 2 left tackle behind Chad Clifton. Morley shows promise but has a long way to go before he's ready to play in a regular-season game.

"He's a real good athlete but he hasn't been exposed to some of these things," offensive line coach Larry Beightol said. "So we just have to wait and see. It's a process."

Morley, 22, is 6-6 and 332. He's a fine athlete but lacks strength.

"I came down here a couple months ago and saw the program they're doing here," Morley said. "They run and do weights four days a week and I was, like, 'Wow, these guys do this? No wonder these guys are so good.' I was in awe of the workout program. The way these guys train, no wonder they're so good."

Morley said he has had trouble adapting to the close quarters in which linemen operate in the NFL.

"These guys are right on top of me so I've got to get out of my stance really quick," he said. "It's so much faster. That's the biggest difference for sure."

"I think he can cover better at the safety position. He has burst and he has range. He has to work on his tackling and ball skills." -- Director of pro personnel Reggie McKenzie on S Bhawoh Jue, a former cornerback.

Detroit Lions
On the surface, the numbers don't sound too bad - 10 years of NFL experience for the linebackers considered most likely to get the bulk of the playing time for the 2004 Detroit Lions.

But when you consider that eight of those 10 years belong to middle linebacker Earl Holmes, it shows the obvious - the Lions are almost certain to have one of the least experienced linebacking crews in the NFL when they open the season Sept. 12 at Chicago.

And there is no guarantee that Holmes will be the fulltime Mike linebacker, considering the high expectations the Lions have for second-round draft pick Teddy Lehman from Oklahoma.

"That's where he's getting his snaps and we're really training him hard for that position," coach Steve Mariucci said.

During the spring minicamps, Lehman and Holmes were alternating at the middle. Holmes has the obvious edge as an experienced run-stopper but Lehman's athletic ability gives him the potential to stay on the field for more than the running downs, and the Lions like that idea.

The only other linebackers with any kind of experience are Boss Bailey, who started all 16 games at the strong side last year as a rookie, and James Davis, a fifth-round draft pick in 2003. He played in eight games as a rookie but has gotten thicker and stronger, and now will get the first shot at the weak side linebacker job vacated when Barrett Green signed with the New York Giants.

Coach Steve Mariucci doesn't have to be told how NFL quarterbacks can take advantage of young, inexperienced linebackers.

"It's not just in coverage," Mariucci said. "It's in your run fits and it's in play-action pass and it's the movements and misdirection. It's faster for 'em and there's more to it, more formation than they're used to seeing. It happens faster with bigger men but the more they practice, the more experience they get, the more they get used to doing this."

News & Notes
--Backup quarterback Mike McMahon is a coach favorite because of his swagger and his ability to run with the football, but his accuracy always surfaces as a problem.

In three NFL seasons, including three starts as a rookie in 2001 and four starts in 2002, McMahon has a career completion average of 42.3 percent and the numbers have gotten worse each year instead of better.

In those three seasons, he has had 12 games in which he has thrown nine or more passes. Only twice in those 12 games has he completed more than 50 percent of his passes.

McMahon was promoted to the starting job ahead of Charlie Batch by former Lions coach Marty Mornhinweg in 2001 and completed 46.1 percent of his passes (53 of 115). The following year he lost the starting job to Joey Harrington two games into the season and completed 42.2 percent (62 of 147). Playing last year, strictly as a backup, he completed 29 percent (9 of 31).

"Last year we were the oldest team in the NFC. I don't know who figures it up but we're going to be one of the youngest teams in the league, I think." - Coach Steve Mariucci on the number of inexperienced players expected to play critical roles for the Lions in 2004.

Minnesota Vikings
Former Vikings running back Robert Smith, who February 2001 walked away from $40 million after his best season, gave a rare interview while promoting his new book: "The Rest of the Iceberg: An Insider's View on the World of Sport and Celebrity."

During the interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Smith, who has been a mysterious figure in the Twin Cities since his retirement at age 28, finally struck down the rumor that he left because he couldn't tolerate former teammate Randy Moss.

Smith called Moss, "a young kid with a big mouth," but also said, "I have a lot of respect for Randy and it's ridiculous to think I left because of him."

Smith said his long history of injuries played a role in his decision. However, he added that he is healthy enough to have twice considered coming back to the NFL.

Smith said he considered returning to the Vikings after friend and former teammate Korey Stringer died of heat stroke at Vikings training camp in 2001.

Smith also said he would have returned to the NFL this season had former Vikings coach Dennis Green gotten a head coaching position with a championship contending team. Green was hired by the Arizona Cardinals.

"If he had gone somewhere that had a chance to (win a championship) right away, I was going with him," Smith said. "I love Denny. He always believed in me and stuck by me during my career when people were probably telling him to get rid of me."

Smith's book will detail his NFL and collegiate careers with the Vikings and Ohio State. It also will decry what Smith considers the misplaced priorities of sports fans.

The book costs $35.95 for hardback and $19.95 for paperback. Orders can be placed at

News & Notes
--Coach Mike Tice said 5-foot-9 CB Antoine Winfield has "probably the quickest feet" on the team. "I wish he was 5-11, but he's not," Tice said. "But he's a fierce tackler. He's smart. He has tremendously quick feet, great anticipation. I think he's going to make a great difference because we're going to have two really good corners out there to start the game in Antoine and Brian WilliamsBrian Williams."

--WR Randy Moss is tied with Jerry Rice for the most seasons with at least 17 touchdowns receiving. Moss had 17 in 1998 and 2003. Rice had 17 in 1987 and 1989.

"I don't want to use the term `hang in there' anymore." -- Coach Mike Tice talking about his desire to have his revamped defense help win games rather than not lose them.

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