Maryland, Four Veterans Released; 4 RB's Make It

Veteran defensive tackle Russell Maryland was one of five veteran players that the Green Bay Packers released Sunday to reach the league-mandated roster limit of 53 players. The Packers also waived nine first-year or rookie players and traded for a defensive lineman.

Other veterans released included fullback Matt Snider, safety Scott McGarrahan, running back De'Mond Parker and defensive lineman Harald Hasselbach.

The Packers also released wide receiver Mike Horacek, fullback Chris Gall, tight end Adam Newman, guard Glenn Rountree, offensive lineman Ed Kehl, defensive tackle DeVone Claybrooks, linebackers Donte' Curry and Donnie Spragan, and cornerback Hurley Tarver.

The Packers acquired defensive tackle Rod Walker from the Tennessee Titans in exchange for a conditional 2002 draft pick. Sherman said some players released may return to the team's five-man developmental squad, which is established within a day or two after the final roster cutdown.

Cletidus Hunt, suspended for the first four games this season for violating the league's substance abuse policy, was placed on the reserve/suspended by NFL list and does not count against the roster.

Maryland started all 16 games at nose tackle in his only season with the Packers last year, but his high base salary for this season ($1.4 million) and Gilbert Brown's resurgence was enough to convince coach/general manager Mike Sherman to release Maryland.

Maryland, entering his 11th NFL season, missed the first half of training camp this year with a sore back. He returned to play in Green Bay's final two exhibition games, finishing with two tackles. Maryland was released by Oakland in 2000 because of his refusal to accept a pay cut. He then signed a three-year, $8.3 million contract with the Packers, including a $1.65 million signing bonus.

The Packers have spoken with Maryland's agent, Leigh Steinberg, about restructuring the contract since last January. They tried contacting Steinberg again on Sunday, but Steinberg would not return calls, so Sherman said he spoke with Maryland directly. Still, Maryland was unwilling to budge with his salary.

"It just wasn't working. I have the utmost respect for his position," said Sherman. "He has to do what's right for him. Along the same lines as a football team, we have to do what's right for us. It was a very difficult decision because I wanted to keep Russell Maryland here. I wish he could have been here, but it didn't work out."

'Whisper' makes statement
Sherman felt running back Herbert "Whisper" Goodman's "upside" was too good to part with, so he released third-year pro De'Mond Parker and opted to keep four running backs and William Henderson as the team's only fullback.

"(Goodman) made as much progress as anybody on our team," Sherman said. "I thought Parker had a very good camp as well, but the growth spurts that I saw from Goodman was phenomenal.

"His size allows us an opportunity to pass protect whereas 'DP' gives up about 10 pounds there. I just think that Herbert has a tremendous upside. ... That was a tough decision, but I believe the right decision."

The Packers enter the season with Ahman Green, Dorsey Levens, Rondell Mealey and Goodman at running back. Linebacker Chris Gizzi will back up Henderson at fullback. Sherman said the fact that Snider only played 23 snaps on offense last year convinced him that he was best to go with four running backs in case of injuries.

"I wanted to protect ourselves there, and I also wanted to hang on to some pretty good talent, which I think I did with Mealey and Goodman," Sherman said. "That's why I wanted to go in that direction."

Akins beats out McGarrahan
Like Maryland, McGarrahan was released primarily in a cost-cutting move, but also because Sherman felt comfortable with Akins, a third-year pro. Akins had a strong preseason with 12 tackles and one pass defensed. He also had four special teams tackles.

"McGarrahan has been here a long time," said Sherman. "He's been very productive on special teams and that was a very tight race. Again, it comes down to an older versus a younger player, expensive versus inexpensive."

McGarrahan, a fourth-year pro, will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. He was taken by the Packers in the sixth round of the 1998 draft and played primarily on special teams and as a backup safety.

Heir apparent?
The Packers kept an eye on Walker throughout the preseason. Because of the Titans' logjam of defensive tackles, Sherman felt Walker would be released, but probably would be scooped up by another team off the waiver wire before the Packers' turn to pick (17th).

"They (Tennessee) did not want to have to let this guy go," Sherman said. "If we didn't approach them, he would not have been around when we were ready to pick (off waiver wire). He's a 320-pound nose guard, has quick feet, a very young player and very inexpensive."

Walker, a first-year pro, played collegiately at Troy (Ala.) State. He was on Tennessee's practice squad for 12 weeks last year before being signed to the active roster on Dec. 1. He did not play in the Titans' final four regular season games or in the playoffs.

All six draft picks make cut
The Packers, as expected, retained all six of their 2001 draft picks. It is quite possible, however, that the top three will not suit up for Green Bay's regular season opener Sunday against Detroit.

First-round pick Jamal Reynolds has been sidelined since Aug. 18 with a knee injury and missed the final two exhibition games. Second round pick Robert Ferguson suffered a concussion Aug. 31 against Oakland and is sixth among Packers receivers on the depth chart. Third-round pick Bhawoh Jue missed more than two weeks of training camp with a knee injury and is the team's fifth cornerback, which means he probably will not be activated.

Only 45 players , plus a designated third quarterback, are eligible to play on game days.

Tight end David Martin (sixth round) and linebacker (Torrance Marshall) are certain to play Sunday. It is possible that fourth-round pick Bill Ferrario also will not be activated.

"I was very confident in the draft picks after the draft and minicamps," Sherman said. "I still am very confident in the draft picks. Some of them haven't performed to the level that they will in the near future, hopefully, but I have tremendous expectations for all those guys."


Packer Report Top Stories