Packers pull plug on Crouch experiment

For the first time in his stop-and-go NFL career, Eric Crouch didn't quit.

This time, he met the cold, hard reality of being released.

While observers anticipated the ax falling on highly paid defensive ends Joe Johnson and Jamal Reynolds, the Packers' only transaction at the opening of minicamp Wednesday was the release of Crouch.

Crouch, the former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at Nebraska, was making his third attempt to win a spot an NFL roster. This time, Crouch was working out at safety. Crouch, at 6-foot, 203 pounds, has the size to play the position. And anyone who watched him run wild on opposing defenses in college knows Crouch has the athleticism to succeed.

Packers coach Mike Sherman saw a fine athlete but he did not see a safety. So rather than bring Crouch back for what was likely a fruitless minicamp, Sherman pulled the plug on the experiment.

"I didn't think he was truly a defensive back," Sherman explained for the decision. "We gave him a look, looked at him on punt returns and didn't feel like it was going to work. In fairness to him, I thought it was best to release him."

Crouch was drafted in the third round in 2002 by the St. Louis Rams to play wide receiver and run back kicks. He likely had made the roster but quit just before the start of the regular season.

Crouch made a comeback last summer when Sherman promised him a shot at quarterback. The signing of Akili Smith, however, pushed Crouch to fifth out of five quarterbacks on the depth chart. Seeing the writing on the wall, Crouch quit again, this time on the eve of training camp.

At the postdraft minicamp, Crouch acknowledged making the team at safety would be a challenge. This time, however, he said playing quarterback was out of his blood and he was ready to help the Packers in any way possible.

"It's been kind of a tough go for me," Crouch said in April. "This is my third position. Each time I've come in to give it a shot it's been at a new position, so this is something I feel comfortable with and I feel this is where it's going to be for my future."

The former quarterback appears headed back to the position, with Sherman hinting Crouch might head north to try out for the Canadian Football League this summer.

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