Bennett to coach RBs

The Packers today named former running back Edgar Bennett as the team's running backs coach. Bennett replaces Johnny Roland, who took a similar position with the New Orleans Saints.<p>

Bennett, 35, has assisted Roland and previous running backs coach Sylvester Croom over that last two seasons. He has had no other previous coaching experience. In addition to his on-field work, Bennett was the team's director of player development the last four seasons. In that role, he helped players acclimate to their roles as Green Bay Packers, both on and off the field, especially in terms of their expected contributions to their teammates, the community and the organization. In 2003, the league recognized his department as best in the NFC.

Bennett also provided a key communications channel between the players and coaches, both during the week and on the sideline during games. Coach Mike Sherman has often credited Bennett as the No. 1 reason why the Packers enjoy excellent team chemistry.

"I'm excited about Edgar Bennett becoming our running backs coach," Sherman said. "Over the past few years in his role assisting with the backs, he has continually demonstrated the ability to be a successful coach in this league. Each year I gave him additional responsibility in his coaching duties and he performed very well. He's a natural for the position. His attention to detail and relationship with the players will serve him well – they trust him and his knowledge of the game."

Under Roland, the starting backfield of Ahman Green and William Henderson are heading to the Pro Bowl, Najeh Davenport had a huge game against St. Louis when pressed into starting action, and Tony Fisher thrived in his third-down role.

"We were fortunate to have someone of Johnny Roland's caliber in 2004," Sherman said. "He has a wealth of experience, and our offense greatly benefited from his abilities. For the first time since 1962, we had a running back and a fullback receive Pro Bowl honors in the same year – that speaks for itself." Green Bay's fourth-round draft selection in 1992, he is the ninth-ranking rusher in Packers history. The Florida State product gained 3,353 yards over his five seasons (1992-96) in Green Bay, leading the team in rushing in 1996 when it went on to win Super Bowl XXXI. In 1995 he became the first player to rush for 1,000 yards since Terdell Middleton in 1978. He also continues to hold the club single-season record for receptions by a running back with 78, set in 1994.

After suffering a season-ending torn Achilles' heel in the Packers' 1997 preseason, a successfully rehabbed Bennett signed with Chicago as an unrestricted free agent in February of 1998 and went on to lead the Bears in rushing that season. After one more year with Chicago, Bennett retired from football in 2000. He rejoined the Packers in a front-office role April 10, 2001.

"It's almost come full circle for me," Bennett said. "I started my career here, and to coach here now is a dream come true."

A four-year starter at fullback for Florida State (1987, 1989-91), Bennett holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the university. Previously, he had been a Class 4A first-team all-state back at Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, where he was a teammate of former Packers safety LeRoy Butler, who later also would be his teammate at FSU and in Green Bay.

Bennett and his wife Mindy have two children, Edgar and Elyse.

With Bennett's promotion, he will assist with both the hiring and transition process of selecting an individual to head the team's player development department.

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