UPDATE: Packers sign 3 of 6 picks

On the eve of training camp, the Packers worked feverishly to sign their six draft picks, agreeing on contracts with three of them by late Thursday night.

Offensive lineman Scott Wells, Green Bay's seventh-round draft choice, on Thursday afternoon became the first of the team's picks to reach agreement on a contract.

Thursday evening, the team announced it had signed third-round pick B.J. Sander, a punter from Ohio State. Then later in the night, third-round pick Donnell Washington, a massive defensive tackle from Clemson, also came to terms.

The signings highlighted a series of roster moves on the eve of training camp.

Wells' contract is for three years and $942,500. According to The Associated Press via a source in the NFL Players Association, the deal includes a $22,500 signing bonus and yearly base salaries of $230,000 for 2004, $305,000 for '05 and $385,000 for '06.

Wells will sign the contract Friday, in time for the start of training camp.

Wells played center at Tennessee and played center and guard at the Packers' off-season minicamps. One of Packers coach/GM Mike Sherman's off-season priorities was to upgrade depth on the offensive line, and Wells' versatility does just that.

Discussing the rookie class at Wednesday's shareholders meeting, Sherman said of Wells: "I really wanted to get a center to help us have a competitive center-guard type combination. He's a tough kid and he's a smart kid."

Wells, a state champion wrestler while a high-schooler in Tennessee, drew attention at the NFL Scouting Combine by bench-pressing 225 pounds 31 times, exploding for a 31-inch vertical leap and recording an excellent 34 on the Wonderlic intelligence test.

He started the final 49 games of his college career — the third-longest streak among offensive linemen in college football history.

According to a source who talked to The Green Bay News-Chronicle, Sander's contract was for four years. No financial details were available, and no details were available at all about Washington's pact.

Sander will be under pressure to succeed because he was taken so early in the draft. Sherman says Sander may not have a booming leg but he excels at placing the ball, something Josh Bidwell struggled mightily with last season. Washington, at 322 pounds, could develop into a solid run-stuffer, Sherman said. Rookies and selected veterans, totaling about 40 in all, moved into the dorms at nearby St. Norbert College on Thursday. The first practice is at 2:30 p.m. Friday. First-round pick Ahmad Carroll, third-round pick Joey Thomas — both cornerbacks — and sixth-round pick Corey Williams, a defensive tackle, will not be joining them until they come to terms. A contract with Williams reportedly was close to fruition earlier in the week, so a move there could come quickly.

In other roster moves, the Packers signed rookie free-agent defensive back James Taylor of Georgetown University in Kentucky while releasing four players.

Taylor played split end in 2000 and safety in 2001-02 at Ohio University before transferring to Georgetown. At the NAIA school, Taylor played both ways. He rushed for 258 yards on 41 attempts with two touchdowns, caught 13 passes for 100 yards and another score, and returned five kickoffs for 118 yards. Getting most of his snaps on offense, he found time to make six tackles on defense.

Defensive end Junior Glymph, offensive lineman Joe Hayes, linebacker Kevin Jackson and wide receiver Devin Lewis were the players released. Lewis spent last season on the Packers' injured-reserve list after spending a large portion of 2002 on the practice squad. Hayes got in a minicamp fracas with second-year defensive lineman Kenny Peterson.

The roster shuffle means some changing of numbers. Taylor is No. 45, tight end Steve Bush moves to No. 82 and tight end Tony Donald gets No. 85.


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