Commentary

If you were not overly optimistic about the Green Bay Packers' chances of advancing to the Super Bowl this season, you've got to be now. The roster continues to build with talent in areas of need.<p>

By signing Darrien Gordon Tuesday to a one-year deal, the Packers took care of their woes with the punt return game. Gordon, though he's 31 years old, still has what it takes to move the ball upfield, or into the end zone.

No matter what Gordon does this season, it will be better than last year for the Packers. Allen Rossum was limited to just six regular season games because of injuries. When he played, he ignited that area of special teams and kickoff returns as well. Even won a game with a late punt return for a touchdown against Tampa Bay. But when Rossum was out, the Packers had nobody to return punts. It took until the end of the season to discover how valuable Dorsey Levens can be returning kickoffs. In between, all the Packers could do was insert Antonio Freeman to catch punts, but because Freeman is even slower than he used to be, that was about all he could do.

Flash Gordon is the real deal. He led the NFC in punt returns last year and should spark a unit that ranked 28th overall in the league with a measley 7.6 yard per return average. Gordon averaged a whopping 14.1 yards per return on 31 attempts. More important, he's got big-game experience, having played in three Super Bowls, and instantly clears what was a questionable situation at punt returner.

With the additions of wide receiver Terry Glenn, defensive end Joe Johnson and middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson, the Packers enter training camp at the end of next week riding a wave that could carry them to San Diego for Super Bowl XXXVII.

The addition of Gordon is another in a string of solid moves this off-season by Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman.


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