Packers sign veteran running back

Newly acquired running back Lamar Smith and wide receiver Antonio Chatman joined the Packers today as Green Bay opened its June minicamp. Smith is hoping to land a spot behind Ahman Green while Chatman, who starred in the Arena League, will get a look as a return specialist.<p>

Smith, 32, is entering his 10th season in the NFL. He was the leading rusher for the Carolina Panthers last year with 737 yards in 209 attempts, a long of 59 yards and 7 touchdowns in 11 starts. Smith was placed on a paid leave of absence in November of last year after a drunken driving incident. The Panthers released him in March.

Smith will be competing against Tony Fisher and Najeh Davenport for the right to back up Green. The Packers likely are looking for different ways to lessen the load on Green, who played the last quarter of the 2002 season with a knee injury. Green led the Packers with 1,240 yards rushing on 286 attempts. He also caught 57 passes for 393 yards in 14 regular season games.

Smith has scored 27 touchdowns in the past three years. He began his pro career with Seattle. He moved on to Miami where he had 2,107 rushing yards over the 2000 and 2001 seasons. His 309 carries set a Miami team record in 2000 and his 14 rushing touchdowns and 16 total touchdowns tied for second in the American Football Conference and third in the NFL that season.

Chatman, a former University of Cincinnati star, broke the Arena Football League's all-purpose yards record this year, amassing 3,678 yards in 18 games. He was the Bearcats' leader in both receiving yards (609) and all-purpose yards (1,257) as a senior in 2000.

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