Minicamp notes: Walker continues holdout

Cletidus Hunt wasn't the only veteran to purposely miss the start of the Green Bay Packers' June minicamp on Wednesday. As expected, wide receiver Javon Walker did not report, either.

Walker, who skipped the team's mandatory post-draft minicamp, wants a new contract. He has two years remaining on a deal that he signed as a rookie in 2002, but feels he is underpaid.

Walker and Hunt weren't the only veterans missing from the camp, which continues Thursday and Friday and then resumes with a practice each day from June 6-9. Quarterback Brett Favre was excused from practices as was defensive tackle Grady Jackson by Sherman. Tight end Bubba Franks is not under contract and did not report for practices, as expected.

A handful of other players did not participate in drills due to injuries, or off-season surgeries.

Sherman said he wanted to give Favre a break after the off-field issues he has faced over the past 17 months. Favre's father, Irvin, died just before a December 2003 game against Oakland. Then in the middle of last season, Favre's brother-in-law Casey Tynes died in an all-terrain vehicle accident on Favre's Mississippi property and Favre's wife, Deanna, started treatment for breast cancer. Last December, Favre's good friend and former teammate Reggie White passed away. For those reasons, Sherman says giving Favre a break is in the veteran QB's best interests.

"I told him just to stay away," Sherman told reporters after practice. "The reasons haven't really changed a whole lot from last time in regard to the fact that he had a tough year last year. He's going into his 15th season. I'm not worried about him physically from a football standpoint, although I am pleased by the fact that he's been working out with a personal trainer and has done a yeoman's job in regard to that. We've talked to the trainer and he's helped himself in regard to his workouts. He probably physically is in the best shape that he has been in recent years anyway. I just want him knocking the door down when he comes here in July to get ready for the season.

"He's going into his 15th season. I don't want it to get old for him. I don't want him to get bored with it or get tired of it. He's certainly not. When I talk to him on the phone, he's excited about football. He's excited about coming back."

Sherman said Favre will be in Green Bay on Thursday and may watch practice on Friday. Favre hosts his sixth annual charity softball game on Sunday at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton.

Jackson, who underwent knee surgery in February, is not expected to attend the June minicamp. The veteran defensive tackle did not participate in the team's post-draft minicamp, though, he was in Green Bay to work out on his own and watch practices. Jackson suffered a knee injury in the team's season opener last year against the Carolina Panthers and missed five games.

"He can't do a whole lot of work right now in regards to practice, but the rehab stuff that he has been working on has been going along pretty good," Sherman said. "We started his running program last week and we're going to try to progress that."

"We're working him piece by piece. ... It seems like he's doing OK. He's responded well to rehab and he's working real hard. He had some good workouts last week. We're encouraged by that."

Sherman said he has tried to contact Franks, who was named as the team's "transition" player in February. As a transition player, Franks can sign a one-year contract worth $2.095 million, or negotiate a long-term deal. His salary cap number probably would be lower in 2005 if he was signed to a long-term contract because the team would be able to prorate his signing bonus over the term of the deal.

Aches and pains
A handful of players did not participate in drills during practice on Wednesday, including rookie draft picks CB Mike Hawkins and WR Craig Bragg.

Hawkins suffered a meniscus tear in his knee during the team's "opportunity session" practices last week and will be out until the start of training camp. Sherman said Hawkins underwent arthroscopic surgery last week.

"He should be 100 percent by the time we start the preseason," said Sherman.

Bragg suffered a strained hamstring in the opportunity session and might be able to practice by June 9.

Rookie free agent tight end Garrett Cross suffered a severe ankle sprain in the opportunity session and probably will not be able to practice in the camp.

Nose tackle James Lee had swelling in his knee that was surgically repaired last October after the post-draft minicamp, so Sherman held him out of practice on Wednesday.

"We rushed him back maybe a little too soon during the season," Sherman said. "To his credit, he fought through some things."

Defensive tackle Corey Williams injured his hip during practice Wednesday and was carted off the field, but Sherman said that the injury is not serious.


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