Hunt apologizes; Sherman concerned

Asked about a certain defensive tackle's long-awaited minicamp arrival Monday, Packers receiver Donald Driver offered an incredulous, "Is he back?"

Yes, Cletidus Hunt is back. And not a moment too soon for Packers coach Mike Sherman.

Hunt revealed little about his absence during a brief chat with reporters after Monday's workout. He did, however, offer an apology.

"Well, first off, I want to start off by apologizing to my coaches, teammates, (the media), the fans out here in Green Bay, period," Hunt said. "It was a letdown. We had some last-minute personal issues come up that I had to attend to. .... I'm not the kind of guy that misses camp, so I just send my apologies out and hope everyone accepts that I'm here and I'm willing to bust my (butt) to make up for it and do what I have to do."

Asked several times the reason for his absence, Hunt offered nothing more than "personal" reasons.

That's not good enough for Sherman.

"There is no reason that's acceptable in my mind unless there's a death in the family," Sherman said.

While still miffed at Hunt for missing three practices key to the installation of the Packers' revamped defense, Sherman said he can't, and won't, hold a grudge.

"Everything has to be behind you in this business," Sherman said. "You can't worry about last week. You tell people how you feel and what's important and hope they understand that. I believe he does with this situation and we'll be able to move forward. I'm not someone who hangs onto the past very long as long as there is a bright future, and I think there is."

Hunt made his presence felt several times Monday. He intercepted a batted ball during red-zone drills, and cleanly beat Pro Bowl guard Marco Rivera during one-on-one pass-rushing drills later in practice.

"He had great effort and intensity," Sherman said, adding later: "I thought he looked pretty good out here, surprisingly. I think he felt a little pressure to do well and he responded."

Even with Hunt back in the fold, Sherman said he's worried about his standout defensive tackle's commitment to the team. With a six-year, $25 million contract, Hunt is being paid to perform at a high level. Without his impact in the middle, the Packers' defense is in trouble.

Asked if he's sold on Hunt after his unexcused absence, Sherman said. "I have to watch him play this season. I hope so. He certainly expressed that to me this morning. Not being here last week, I had my questions. He told me he was committed but I have questions but hopefully he is."

With the Packers transitioning from Ed Donatell's system to Bob Slowik's, these minicamps are critical, Sherman said. About 85 percent of the defense for the first four games has been installed, Sherman said, putting Hunt behind. There's nothing that can be done to punish Hunt, however, since this is a voluntary camp — in the eyes of the NFL, at least.

"It's tough because it is voluntary, but I think it is an unwritten rule that you need to be here and help us get to where we want to be," Sherman said. "Our defense happens in stages. An awful lot of time went into the organization of this camp, the plays we want to run, the defenses we want to call, special teams units. So it's a very big part of what we do in this day in age of football season where there is really no off-season. There is no off-season jobs. This is their job, so you expect them to be here. But obviously you don't have any punitive measures other than your disappointment of what you expect out of him."

As the players hinted last week, all would be forgiven once Hunt arrived. That was Hunt's take on the situation, as well.

"They're happy that I'm back," Hunt said. "The guys in the locker room, they just welcome me back. They understand the situation. It can happen to any one of us and they're just happy that I'm back out here with them."

Driver concurred, saying there will be no grudges and it's time to move on.

"There's nothing changed (as far as his acceptance in the locker room)," Driver said. "He knows that he made a mistake. He wasn't here and everybody else was here and there must have been something very important he had to take care of. If it was family related, you have to respect that and deal with it. We're just happy to have him back, to be honest. Now we put everything else behind us and get ready for the season."


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