Post-draft minicamp notes

Practice is practice, but for Green Bay's rookies, the first day on the job was an eye-opener. The Packers' nine draft picks, along with the team's veterans practiced today for the first time in the team's post-draft minicamp.<p>

Most rookies were awed by stars they have seen on television like Brett Favre and Ahman Green. Some by the speed in which the team practiced. Some by the speed of most every player on the field.

"It's a little overwhelming, I'm not going to lie," said Hunter Hillenmeyer, selected in the fifth round by the Packers in the recent NFL draft. "You come into meetings, and we haven't had a break since we've gotten here, you get 15 minutes to eat lunch, and then we're back into meetings again, but it's so exciting. All the rookies are out there flying around. You've got to do something to catch the coaches' attention."

"It's a little overwhelming seeing Brett Favre pass to (Ahman Green) and guys I'm used to watching on TV, but it's exciting."

The veterans, who have been practicing the last two days, welcomed the rookies because it meant they did not have to take as many reps in practice.

"That's the excitement more than anything," Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman said. "Certainly we had a lot of young players who wanted to show what they could do. They certainly added to the mix as expected."

First-round draft pick Nick Barnett showcased his speed, breaking up a few passes during a scrimmage segment.

"It was fun," Barnett said. "It was fun to play football instead going through pre-draft stuff. It's a great group of guys, so I was just excited to be out there on the same field as them.

"It's fast. It's like go, go, go, go."

Most of the rookies will try to learn as much as possible on the field as practices continue through Sunday. During that time, they will try to catch the eye of coaches before returning for another minicamp in early June. The Packers' 2003 training camp begins in mid-July.

"I look for competitiveness," linebackers coach Mark Duffner said. "I want to see how competitive they are going to be. Are they going to back down when the veterans are here, or are they going to compete fiercely with their hair on fire?"

Duffner and many of the coaches have, thus far, been pleased with what they have seen of the rookies. But there, of course, is plenty of room for improvement.

"Right now they can probably play checkers better than they can play out here," Duffner said. "We'll get better."

11 undrafted free agents sign

The Packers have signed 11 undrafted free agents, who joined the team for practice today. The rookies include quarterback Jose Fuentes of Utah State, a record-breaking, three-year starter from Utah State, three offensive linemen and two defensive lineman. Cornerback Quentus Cumby of Kentucky, the nephew of George Cumby, a first-round draft selection by Green Bay in 1980, also signed with the Packers.

Other players who signed on include cornerback Keith Burnell of Delaware, fullback Tommy Collins of Connecticut, tight end Matt Huebner of St. Cloud State, defensive tackle/defensive end Cullen Jenkins of Central Michigan, linebacker Shantee Orr of Michigan, tackle David Porter of Iowa, defensive end Eric Powell of Florida State, guard/tackle Jamil Soriano of Harvard, and halfback J.R. Taylor of Eastern Illinois.

Fuentes established 18 game and career marks at Utah State. They include career records for pass attempts (1,270), completions (704), touchdowns (60) and total offense, (8,791 yards).


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