Packers hope Gordon is the answer

Finally, it looks like the Packers have found their man. <P> After searching their own roster and the free agent market for a return man, the Packers' landed Darrien Gordon in a move that took a back seat to the bigger-name signings. As the dust settles, Gordon looks like exactly what the Packers needed.<P>

Gordon's resume is impressive. He averaged 14.1 yards per return for Atlanta last season, which ranked first in the NFC and second in the league. His 12.3-yard punt return average in his nine-year career is about half a yard shy of the NFL record set by Chicago's George McAfee in the ‘40s. Gordon shares NFL single-game records for most touchdowns by punt return (2) and most touchdowns by combined kick return (2). He also holds Super Bowl career and single-game records for most interception return yards with 108.

"Not only is he extremely capable of generating excellent field position for us, he makes good decisions," says Green Bay special teams coach Frank Novak. "He knows when to catch the ball, when to let it go. He will direct traffic back there when the ball is short and have to get away from him. He's been doing this for a long time and he's done it very well.

Novak stopped short of handing Gordon the job, however.

"Even though he's a veteran, he has to be able to win that job," Novak said. "He has to convince me he can do it."

The Stanford product also has logged substantial time as a defensive back, making 65 starts over the course of 125 pro games. He has 19 interceptions including two returned for TDs.

Read between the numbers, and there is another reason why Gordon and the Packers are a good match. After sitting out the playoffs last year with the 7-9 Falcons, Gordon said he didn't hesitate when the Packers came to call.

"Titletown, what more can you say," said Gordon. "At my age, it's all about having fun. I wanted to be part of an organization that's committed to winning."

If Gordon catches on in Green Bay, a twist of the schedule will bring together the Packers' past and present return men with their former teams. Green Bay and Gordon are slated to meet Atlanta and Rossum in the regular season opener Sept. 8 at Lambeau Field.

"That's the nature of the game with free agency," Gordon said. "I'm happy to be here. I'm happy to be with ateam that's trying to win."


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