Lee benefits from bye

Running back relishes opportunity with Green Bay

While most of the players left Green Bay during the bye weekend for rest and relaxation elsewhere, Rashard Lee hung around 1265 Lombardi Ave. and hit the books. For Lee, the Packers' bye week couldn't have come at a better time.

Lee was signed by the Packers on Oct. 5 and played in Green Bay's 52-3 whipping over the New Orleans Saints a few days later. Ahman Green was out with a battered right leg, and Najeh Davenport, who started in place of Green, sustained a broken right ankle late in the first half.

Lee, who was released by Minnesota late in the preseason after spending the bulk of the preseason with the Buffalo Bills, suddenly was thrust into action. He hardly made a splash, finishing with seven yards on seven carries. He also stepped in for Davenport on the kickoff return team.

Though Lee's debut with Green Bay was ho-hum, he feels he has found the right team. Lee bounced around from Dallas, where he signed as a rookie free agent out of Middle Tennessee State in 2003, to Buffalo to Minnesota and now Green Bay.

"You have guys going two and three years trying to find the right fit," Lee said. "Then when they find the right fit, they go and have a great career. Maybe that's what's happening to me right now."

Lee stung the Packers during a preseason game this year with a 69-yard kickoff return. That probably helped in Ted Thompson's decision to sign Lee on Oct. 5.

Lee, 25, crammed with running backs coach Edgar Bennett last week, which he feels will help him in future games. Lee currently is the team's No. 3 running back on the depth chart behind Green and Tony Fisher. Coach Mike Sherman said last week that the Packers do not plan on replacing Lee at this time.

"From what I've seen, I'm encouraged by him," Sherman said. "He's a big back, excellent hands, can catch a ball in the backfield – that much I do know. He's been an excellent student studying pass protection because he knows in this offense you have to protect the quarterback. I'm anxious to see how he'll run."

Lee, who spent the 2003 season on injured reserve with a knee injury, led the Cowboys in rushing average (4.7) with 128 yards on 27 carries in 2004. He was released by Dallas this off-season and signed with the Bills on May 16. Buffalo released him on the team's first cutdown in training camp, and he was immediately signed by the Vikings. But Minnesota released him on the final cutdown.

Lee said he fielded calls from other teams during the past month from his home in Brunswick, Ga. He was hoping to find the right opportunity, and he feels it's in Green Bay.

"I like it a lot," Lee said. "I like being out here. I like the team. I like the coaches. This is a good place for me."


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