Minicamp notes: Time out for dodgeball

In past June minicamps, Mike Sherman surprised his team by calling off a practice, so the team could go bowling, or to play paintball, or to golf, all in an effort to build team chemistry. This year, the Green Bay Packers' head coach put a new twist on the chemistry-building activity.

About an hour into practice, Sherman gathered the players in the center of Ray Nitschke Field and sent them into the gymnasium inside Lambeau Field to play dodgeball. Teams were divided into about 10 to 12 players, including coaches and other personnel. Each team faced off on the basketball court in an impromptu tournament that was finished in about a half-hour. "Hopefully the coach will bring that back again," said fullback William Henderson, who has taken part in all of the team's off-field activies. "To be honest with you, I think most of these guys prefer dodgeball to any of the above." Wide receiver Donald Driver's team won the tournament.

"It was a good event in regard to creating chemistry for our team," said Packers coach Mike Sherman.

The Packers will finish their June minicamp Thursday morning with a short practice, beginning at 8:45 a.m. at Ray Nitschke Field.

Punter returns
B.J. Sander was at practice Wednesday, fresh from his stint in NFL Europe with the Hamburg Sea Devils.

Sander finished tied for fourth out of six punters in the league with a 40.0-yard average on 30 punts. He led the league in net average (36.6) and had 12 punts drop inside the 20 and one touchback. His longest punt of the 10-game season was 65 yards.

Sander says he is down about 10 pounds from his roster weight of 217. He plans to take about three weeks off with no kicking before returning to Green Bay to prepare for the start of training camp.

Overall, the second-year pro said the trip overseas was beneficial to his punting and confidence.

"It was good for me to go over there, if nothing else, to apply everything I learned last year in the (NFL Europe) games to see how they work, and to see what works best for me," Sander said.

Sander, taken in the third round of the 2004 NFL draft by the Packers, will be competing against Brooks Barnard and Bryce Benekos in training camp for the punting duties. Last year, Sander struggled during the preseason and finished with an average of 36.0 yards per punt. Sherman kept Sander on the roster, but went with veteran Bryan Barker to handle the punting and tutor Sander.

"As far as I'm concerned, I'm not only competing with the two guys that are here, I'm competing with everybody else in the league," Sander said. "I'm going in as if it's an open job and I have to win it."

While he focused on punting, Sander also practiced holding on extra points and field goals for the Sea Devils kicker.

Injury update
Players who did not practice Wednesday because of injuries included defensive tackles Donnell Washington (hamstring) and Corey Williams (hip), wide receivers Robert Ferguson (back), Chris Samp (hamstring) and Craig Bragg (hamstring), safety Mark Roman (knee), cornerbacks Mike Hawkins (knee), Jason Horton (lungs), and Chris Johnson (shin), linebacker Raynoch Thompson (knee), defensive tackle James Lee (knee), tackle Brennan Curtin (knee), nose tackle Grady Jackson (knee), defensive end Mike Montgomery (thumb).

Still absent
There still was no sign of defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt and wide receiver Javon Walker at Wednesday's practice. Hunt has yet to contact Packers officials about his whereabouts. Walker is holding out of the minicamp in a contract dispute.

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