Building chemistry a key

The Green Bay Packers held a special draft on Thursday, and it had nothing to do with fantasy football.<p>

Instead, the Packers were forming foursomes for a privately held team golf outing today. Selected veterans picked three other players from a pool of players listed on a board in a meeting room.

Since Mike Sherman became head coach in 2000, he has used one day of the June minicamp for a team function. A few years ago, Sherman surprised his team by calling off practice and taking it bowling. The next year, he called off the same Friday practice at the end of the first week of the minicamp and took the team to play paintball.

The door to the team locker room is revolving more than ever in the National Football League. Since the start of free agency in 1993, players have jumped from team to team with higher frequency.

Sherman has made it a point to build team chemistry each off-season, which has been a key in the Packers' resurgence in the last two years. He not only has used the June minicamp to give players a chance to get familiar with each other and what the Packers plan to do in training camp on the field, but off the field as well.

"You understand why Mike does things like this," said Packers quarterback Brett Favre. "Guys look up on the board and it's their turn to draft (for the golf outing), and they have no clue who 20 guys are. They're asking, 'Who's this guy? Who's that guy?' When you go into training camp or when you go into the first game, you want to know who the guy lining up next to you is and something about him. That's really what minicamps are about."

On Sunday, many of the Packers players will meet again off the field, this time to raise money for charity in Favre's annual celebrity softball game in Appleton. Among the players expected to play are Favre, wide receivers Terry Glenn and Javon Walker, running back Ahman Green, offensive tackles Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton, safety LeRoy Butler, linebackers Na'il Diggs, Nate Wayne and Torrance Marshall, punter Josh Bidwell, and kicker Ryan Longwell.

The Packers return to the practice field Monday at 11 a.m., and the minicamp concludes Wednesday.

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