Sander coming along

B.J. Sander, the Packers' third-round pick in 2004, just might prove former general manager/coach Mike Sherman a genius after all.

This spring in NFL Europe, Sander is showing glimpses as to why Sherman thought the world of him and traded up to draft the former Ohio State Buckeye. As of May 27, Sander was averaging 39.8 yards per punt – not great – but averaging 37.1 net yards per punt – pretty good.

OK, these numbers won't prove Sherman a genius. About 10 straight Pro Bowl invitations would, but the left-footed punter may just have what it takes to be an NFL punter.

Delving further into his numbers: Sander's average would have ranked in the bottom three last year in the NFL (right where Packers punter Bryan Wagner was), but his net average would've ranked him eighth. Wagner also ranked near the bottom in net.

Net average is what's most important, because it ultimately determines field position.

Take the top two punters in the NFL last year, by average. Shane Lechler of Oakland and Hunter Smith of Indianapolis averaged 46.7 and 45.2 yards per punt, respectively. But, their net averages of 37.2 and 36.8 were right with Sander#8217;s in NFL Europe.

So, in other words, Lechler's and Smith's punts look nice, but they get the same result as Sander's.

So Sander's performance in NFL Europe is encouraging, but still it by no means tells us he will be this year's Packers' punter. Sander needs to perform in Lambeau Field, but him having a solid spring is a nice start.

If he would be shanking punts like a weekend golfer does drives, then there'd be no hope. Now, there's some.

Since quarterback Brett Favre came out against wide receiver Javon Walker's holdout, many have had an opinion about the situation.

Here's mine: Walker had one great year out of three. He received around a $3 million signing bonus before he ever played a game. Then, he struggled for a year and a half. Did he come to the Packers in this time and ask for a pay cut since he was not living up to a first-round pick's standards? No.

Suck it up, Javon, and honor your contract. That's your name on it, isn't it?

Who isn't sick and tired of pro athletes demanding millions after one great season (insert Terrell Owens here)? Take a long look where each of you are. You're privileged to be playing a game for an insane amount of money. Not long ago, many of you played it for free.

The second wave of free agency starts June 1, and it's a time teams can usually find solid players for less money than in the first wave of free agency. Hopefully the Packers take a look and see if there's some solid defensive players available.

I know defensive coordinator Jim Bates has raved about the Packers' defensive talent, but I really think his brain got fried in his time with Miami. He's talking like he's still coaching the Dolphins.

You can argue there isn't one defensive starter in Green Bay who would start in Miami.

Maybe Bates is a master motivator, or a real good actor and doesn't believe a word he has uttered publicly. The Packers need help everywhere and there should be some warm bodies out there ready to help.

Ricky coming back? Ricky Williams reportedly is thinking about coming back to Miami, and if he does he'll have to sit out four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Can Williams be counted on? Can he coexist with his teammates? Can he and rookie Ronnie Brown form a lethal 1-2 punch at running back?

Likely, the answer to all these questions is, no. But maybe the Fish are looking to trade Williams once he finishes his suspension. Bringing him back won't be worth the trouble. His influence in Brown could be bad and his return would be a story all season, and the Dolphins need to concentrate on the field, not off of it.

– Vikings new owner talking about a new outdoor stadium. Can you see the Vikings shivering in 20-degree weather? Good thing Randy Moss is gone. I've been in the Metrodome too many times for my liking, and it's more like a wine (sometimes whine) and cheese crowd.

They love being under plastic, sitting back and watching their team implode and then leave in the third quarter.
If they move outdoors, they'd have to revamp their team, which is built for speed on the carpet. Go ahead, make the Packers' day.

– Rice to Denver. Why? Here's why. Jerry Rice is all about numbers. He wants to play 20 seasons (he has played 19). He wants 200 receiving TDs (he has 197). At least the Broncos are not guaranteeing him nothing, not even his No. 80, which Rod Smith owns.
Some wonder if this will take away from his greatness. I doubt it. It's just not great to see NFL legends hang on way past their prime.

I see where Pittsburgh backup quarterback Tommy Maddox told a Pittsburgh newspaper he wants to be traded so he can be a starter. I didn't know the XFL was back.

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