Packers land veteran middle linebacker

Beefing up the depth behind rookie middle linebacker Torrance Marshall, the Green Bay Packers today signed veteran linebacker Robert Jones to a one-year deal.<p>

Jones, a 10th-year pro, is expected to compete against Marshall, a second-year pro for a starting spot at middle linebacker. The Packers released veteran Bernardo Harris in February. Harris was the starter the previous five seasons. Green Bay may also make a run for middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson after June 1 if Nickerson, as expected, is released by the Jacksonville Jaguars in a salary cap-related move. The Packers are expected to have more cap room to sign a free agent after June 1 because they are expected to release wide receiver Antonio Freeman, which could free up more than $4 million of cap space.

Jones, 32, broke into the league with the Dallas Cowboys from 1992-95 and collected three Super Bowl rings before moving on to NFL teams in St. Louis (1996-97) , Miami (1998-2000) and Washington (2001).

Jones, 6-1 and 246 pounds, has started 128 of a possible 150 games during his career.

Jones was drafted by Dallas out of East Carolina, the third linebacker selected in the 1992 NFL draft, and started for the Cowboys as a rookie. He had two tackles in the Cowboys' 51-17 victory over Buffalo in SB XXVII. He also played in the Cowboys' 30-13 win over the Bills in SBXXVIII and subsequently started SBXXX, making 8 tackles in Dallas' 27-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had his best season with the Cowboys in 1994 when he finished with 162 tackles, then a team record.

Jones has played in 16 postseason games overall, with 14 starts, most recently starting both of Miami's playoff games following the 2000 season.

Jones had become an unrestricted free agent March 1, 2002, and signed with the Houston Texans on April 26. But he was released May 13 upon his request. He is expected to participate in the team's final off-season minicamp (June 3-12) in Green Bay.

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