Will fullback reins change hands?

One battle to watch at next month's training camp is between veteran fullback William Henderson and impressive challenger Nick Luchey. This is one dilemma many teams would love to have with mostly positives against just a few negatives on each side.<p>

Take Henderson – one of the few remaining Packers from the Super Bowl XXXI Champion team. In football years he's getting "old" at 33, but is far from finished. Last season he proved he's still capable tackler. Most importantly, Hendu proved he can still do what he's been doing consistently for the Pack since he was drafted in the third round out of North Carolina in 1995. He's still a terrific blocker.

Here's a little Henderson-related trivia thrown in for good measure: Henderson is the only player still with the team from the 1995 draft, and in fact the most senior Packer draftee currently with the team. Who holds second place on the Packer draft seniority scale? The downside for Henderson is his age and slightly dimished power at his position. Then there's the not-so-small matter of his salary. Henderson will cost the Packers $1.2 million against the cap this year.

After injuries delayed his Packer debut, Nick Luchey made a big impression last year. After coming over as a free agent from Cincinnati, he backed up Henderson most of the season and was a contributor on special teams. He got the start against Chicago late in the season and also played in both postseason games.

Luchey is definitely the man to take the reins from Henderson. However, the younger fullback still has a long way to go to fill the veteran's considerable shoes.

The negatives on Luchey include one of his own doing and one not. The first is his conditioning and dietary habits. In a few words, not so good. Luchey disappointed coaches by reporting to minicamp at 290 – almost 20 higher than his weight last season. He had worked some of it off by the post-draft minicamp, reporting at 280, and said he will be in top condition by training camp.

Luchey blamed heavy lifting. Coaches blamed heavy eating.

The other problem with Luchey is simply rust. He played in just 11 games last year, carrying once for three yareds and catching one pass for 12 yards. While his role, like Henderson's, is mainly as a blocker, Luchey has to prove his ability to ‘be the man' when needed on offense.

The 27-year-old Luchey is versatile, getting a try at tailback during the preseason, and would be a valuable commodity on nearly any team in the league. Now he has to work to prove that he's worth banking on for the Packers in the future.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Two offensive line teammates tie for this honor. Center Mike Flanagan was selected in the third round (90th) and guard Marco Rivera was selected in the sixth round (208) of the 1996 draft.

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