Defensive Back Anxiously Awaits Game

If Keith Thibodeaux has any luck, he'll have gotten a few good nights of sleep in this week. The defensive back's anxiety has been building since he signed a free agent contract with the Packers in late October.<p> It's all in anticipation of his former team – the Minnesota Vikings – coming to town this Sunday.<p>

Thibodeaux was placed on waivers by the Vikings on Oct. 15 and signed with the Packers two weeks later. He was released by the Packers in mid-November, but returned about a week later when safety LeRoy Butler suffered a broken shoulder blade Nov. 18 against Atlanta.

Since then he has mainly played in Green Bay's passing defenses and had an interception Dec. 3 against Jacksonville. He, of course, would like that an more against Minnesota, where he played during the 2000 season and the first part of this year.

"Make every special teams tackle, an interception, a couple of big hits on those receivers," said Thibodeaux. "That would be ideal."

It will help if he gets some rest. He said he had a tough time sleeping Tuesday night. So, he's just trying to treat the game, like any other.

"If you see me, I'm just real mellow right now, trying to soak it all in," Thibodeaux said. "Sunday's going to be real exciting for me."

What's he going to do Saturday night in order to sleep?

"I'm going to have to take a pill or something, I don't know," he said.

Thibodeaux mainly played on special teams with the Vikings. In 2000, he had 11 tackles, 9 of them unassisted, while playing in all 16 games. He also had 19 tackles as a defensive back, 17 of them solo stops, and 1 interception among 4 passes defensed.

Thibodeaux (pronounced "TIB-ah-DOE"), originally was a fifth-round selection of the Washington Redskins in the 1997 NFL draft, the 140th player chosen. Despite playing behind veterans Darrell Green and Chris Dishman in the Washington secondary as a rookie, Thibodeaux, 27, played in 15 games and finished the season with 14 total tackles, 1 pass defensed and 1 forced fumble. He also posted 4 tackles on special teams.

Waived by the Redskins Aug. 25, 1998, he was out of football during the '98 season, subsequently signing with the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent on Feb. 5, 1999. Waived Nov. 2, 1999, after playing in 8 games for Atlanta, he signed with Minnesota on Nov. 4, 1999, and played in three games for the Vikings before being placed on injured reserve Dec. 23 with a shoulder injury. With Atlanta, he posted 4 tackles as a defensive back and one solo stop on special teams, later registering 3 special teams tackles after signing with the Vikings Nov. 4.

Thibodeaux remained on Minnesota's roster through the 2000 season. Terminated March 2, 2001, he later re-signed as a free agent July 27, 2001, and was with the Vikings through the first five weeks of the regular season before being waived Oct. 15.

He said he is getting more comfortable playing in Green Bay's secondary. He plays on the dime defense (six defensive backs) and on special teams.

"I'm starting to get a feel for it. We have different schemes every week, so sometimes there's a new scheme I have to learn. For the most part, I think I'm jelling pretty good."

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