Ball in Slowik's hands

New defensive coordinator Jim Bates says Bob Slowik is welcome to remain on the staff as coach of the secondary. Bates says he has a great admiration for Slowik, who was defensive coordinator for Packers last year and secondary coach from 2000 to 2003.<p>

Bates replaced Slowik on Monday as defensive coordinator, the second straight year that the Packers have changed defensive coordinators. In January of 2004, Packers coach Mike Sherman replaced Ed Donatell with Slowik, however, Green Bay's defense fell from 17th overall in total yards in 2003 to 25th in the league in 2004.

Sherman fired secondary coach Kurt Schottenheimer last week, and the position remains open. The Packers ranked 25th against the pass in 2004.

"He's an excellent football coach," said Bates of Slowik. "A lot of things happened this year. Sometimes you have a year like that. As far as my opinion, if Bob wants to stay and coach the secondary, I'm going to greet him with open arms because I know his ability level as a coach, and I know his intelligence as far as what he brings to the field and in the classroom. I would enjoy working with Bob Slowik, if he so decides to work in that capacity."

Slowik has 28 years of coaching experience, including 13 in the NFL, and eight as an NFL defensive coordinator. He originally joined the Packers as defensive backs coach, Feb. 10, 2000. The Packers promoted him to assistant head coach/defensive backs before the 2002 season.

Bates said Slowik will decide whether he wants to remain in Green Bay by early next week. Bates said he has known Slowik last "10, 11 years."

Bates, who spoke by phone with the Wisconsin media from his ocean-side balcony in Miami, said he plans to arrive in Green Bay on Monday. He then will evaluate the current coaches and players on his staff with Sherman before making any decisions in coaching or player personnel.

"There's going to be discussions throughout this week and the early part of next week into putting the best staff we possibly can put together," Bates said. "Right now it's very open. There haven't been any total decisions that have been made. ... We're more in the talking stage."

Bates, 58, enters his 37th season in the coaching profession, his 15th in the NFL. The Dolphins' defensive coordinator the last five years (2000-04), he also went 3-4 as the team's interim head coach after Dave Wannestedt resigned when the Dolphins were 1-8.

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