Hunt still worth keeping around

What to do with Cletidus Hunt? Here's a guy with all kinds of ability to be a play-maker the Green Bay Packers desperately need on the defensive line. But the same guy that received a mega-contract a few years ago has rolled over and is playing dead.

Now what? Hunt declined to attend the Packers' recent June minicamp. He also forfeited $250,000 by not participating in the team's off-season workout program. The Packers have said publicly that Hunt never contacted them regarding his whereabouts before or during the minicamp. Teammates of Hunt who have spoken with him say that there are some issues between him and the Packers.

It appears by his actions, or lack of them, that Hunt wants out of Green Bay. So, the best thing the Packers can do, which they have done well, is be patient. Defensive coordinator Jim Bates and head coach Mike Sherman bit hard on their tongues whenever they were asked about Hunt during the recent minicamp. Both coaches have got to be steamed over Hunt, who has given neither Bates nor Sherman any respect. But both coaches realize that Hunt can still help the Packers win football games.

Hunt apparently has a very short memory. It was Sherman who handed him a six-year, $25.5 million contract, including a $6 million signing bonus, in 2003. Now Hunt is turning his back to Sherman and Bates, who has installed about 80 percent of the team's defense since April through two minicamps and "opportunity" sessions. Hunt was at the April minicamp but nowhere to be found since then.

Hunt, if he is smart enough to report to the start of training camp, will be starting out well behind the other defensive linemen on the team. Still, because of his ability and his contract, the Packers have to be patient and hope for the best. Sherman said as much about Hunt at the conclusion of the recent minicamp last Thursday.

"I'm assuming he'll report to camp on time and ready to go," Sherman said. "If he's in the greatest shape that he's ever been in, that would certainly be good for us that he would undertake that. Maybe this will be a challenge for him to get to that point, the fact that he would be here in the best shape of his career."

This seems like wishful thinking at best, but hopefully it sends a clear message to Hunt that the team still wants him. And the Packers do need him. Hunt possesses the most talent of any of the defensive linemen. When motivated, he can translate that talent into sacks and tackles.

The highly energetic Bates can be the perfect coach for Hunt. However, Hunt's attitude has to change toward the team and coaching staff.

While it must be very tempting for the Packers to cut their ties with Hunt and move on, that's the last thing they need to do at this point. Green Bay needs to hang onto Hunt and try to get the most out of him in training camp.

If Hunt continues to play dead, the decision to release him will be a no-brainer. If he responds positively, Hunt might turn out to be the play-maker the Packers need.


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