For the second straight week, Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman signed a player with a character issue. A week after signing castoff defensive tackle Grady Jackson, the Packers welcomed linebacker T.J. Slaughter.
Slaughter was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars a day after he was arrested for pointing a gun at two men in a passing car while he was driving on Oct. 27. Slaughter and his attorney reached a plea bargain agreement with state prosecutors to surrender his gun and make a $500 charitable donation in exchange for dropping the charges.
The men said they pulled alongside Slaughter to admire the tire rims on his car. Slaughter told police he carried a gun in the center console of his vehicle, but that he never pointed it at anyone, according to reports.
The Packers signed Jackson, a defensive tackle, last week after he was placed on waivers by the New Orleans Saints. The Saints were unhappy with his conditioning and attitude, so they released him.
Sherman is confident in giving both players another chance to right themselves on and off the field in Green Bay.
"I have a lot of confidence in the character of our football team," Sherman said. "We've brought people in here and have researched them. I've researched T.J. as much as anybody. He's lived in three states. There's not one report on him in any of those states. (Former linebacker) Hardy Nickerson speaks highly of him. (Special teams coach) John Bonamego worked with him. I have pretty good resources that I trust in regard to T.J. He was exonerated of the charges that were applied to him at one time.
"I have a lot of confidence in the guys in our locker room. When people come in here we have not had any issues to speak of that I'm aware of, anyway.... We explain to them pretty quickly how we do things. If you want to stay here, this is how you have to do it. If you don't do it this way, you won't be here. They understand when they come in what the challenge is. Obviously, they want to hang onto a job so it's important to them, so you have a leg up on them. I'm not compromising anything. I believe in our team. I believe our team can handle and absorb players, and get them going in the right direction with our football team."
A fourth-year pro, Slaughter started 11 games at middle and weakside linebacker with the Jaguars in 2002, finishing with a career-high 106 tackles (47 solo) and two fumble recoveries. He was drafted by the Jags in the third round of the 2000 NFL draft out of Southern Mississippi. Slaughter had 325 tackles overall during his Jacksonville tenure, including 108 in his debut season, thus becoming only the fourth player in Jaguars history to make more than 100 tackles as a rookie.
His best chance of seeing the field probably will be on special teams, where the Packers would like to improve their kickoff coverage.
"He's a physical linebacker that can play ‘Mike' and ‘Will,' said Sherman. "That 53rd (roster) spot, you always want to bring people in and take a look at them. We've found some guys that way. Here's a chance to look at a guy and see if he can impact us in some way. I've heard a lot of good reports about him as a player and what he can bring to your team. He's a physical player and you can't have enough guys like that.
"If he's on our roster on our 45, he's gonna have to be a great special teams player, and he's been told that."