Early cuts

The Packers released linebacker Chris Gizzi and second-year fullback Kevin McLeod on Wednesday. The team also released tight end Rufus French earlier this week.<p>

Coach and GM Mike Sherman said that Gizzi is going to take a year off and try to make the team in 2003. Gizzi underwent lower back surgery last December to repair a herniated disk. He suffered the injury in warmups prior to Green Bay's Dec. 16 game at Tennessee.

Gizzi was signed as a free agent by the Packers in 2000. He played mainly on special teams and as a backup to Nate Wayne prior to his injury. He subsequently underwent a microsurgical diskectomy to repair a herniated disk on Dec. 19 and was placed on season-ending reserve that day.

The 27-year-old Air Force alumnus was the club leader in special teams tackles at the time of his injury with 11 and finished the year second among Packers kamikazes. He also made 9 stops from scrimmage.

A first lieutenant in the Air Force reserves, Gizzi endeared himself to Packers fans early in the season during the formal remembrance of the terrorist attacks of September 11. He was selected to lead his teammates onto the field before the start of the Monday night game against Washington Sept. 24 and made a dramatic run downfield carrying a huge flag in memory of those who died in the attacks.

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