Loud and clear

Upon further review, Cletidus Hunt's ears work just fine.

Hunt and Packers coach Mike Sherman finally are on the same page in regards to the defensive tackle being replaced in the starting lineup last week at Chicago. After the game, Hunt said Sherman was giving his legs a rest. Sherman, meanwhile, said Hunt was demoted for unimpressive and uninspired play the week before during the Christmas Eve game at Minnesota.

Sherman was perturbed by Hunt's version of the story — calling it "a little confusing" — and wondered aloud if Hunt had received his not-so-subtle message.

"Yeah, I got it," Hunt said Wednesday.

Whether Hunt got the message in time to start Sunday's playoff game against Minnesota has not been determined by Sherman.

"We're going through the week and see who shows to have the best week, whether it be he or Cullen (Jenkins), and make a decision on game day," defensive coordinator Bob Slowik said.

Jenkins and Hunt split snaps with the No. 1 defense Wednesday, though Jenkins said he took the first reps.

Hunt continues to underachieve since being signed to a six-year, $25.3 million contact during the 2003 off-season. Given the choice between keeping Hunt or popular defensive end Vonnie Holliday, Sherman chose Hunt, in large part because big and athletic defensive tackles are so few and far between.

Hunt is big and athletic, but those attributes have too rarely shown, especially since signing his big contract.

In 2002, Hunt flashed his massive promise by netting 5.5 sacks and making 48 tackles in 14 games. Those numbers have fallen to 4 and 46 last season and 2 and 37 this season. Hunt said earlier in the year that he is plagued by a pair of aching knees. He drew the ire of Sherman when he skipped a few minicamp practices over the summer without permission.

"Pretty much that and a few more games I didn't play up to par," Hunt said, alluding to the Dec. 24 Vikings game. "I just had a down year this year and so I'm looking forward to them counting on me in the playoffs and making up for it next season."

Hunt looked like someone who could be counted on with his play against the Bears. He finished with three tackles, a sack that came on a lightning-quick move that left Bears guard Steve Edwards grasping at air, and a hurry. He set up another sack and batted down a pass.

"If he can ever develop that consistency, he would be probably what all of us expect him to be," Slowik said. "There's a lot of talent. We have to find a way that we can get it out more consistently."


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