Packers, fullback agree to contract

Fullback Nicolas Luchey and the Green Bay Packers reportedly agreed to terms of a six-year contract over the weekend. Luchey is expected to eventually succeed veteran William Henderson.<p>

Henderson, entering his ninth season, signed a four-year deal in March of last year, but the first two years of the contract are salary cap friendly. He received a $1.15 million signing bonus and is scheduled to earn a base salary of $700,000 this season. In 2004, Henderson's base salary rises to $900,000 in and $1.5 million in '05.

The Packers used rookie Najeh Davenport as Henderson's backup last year, but Davenport injured his eye during a game last November and was placed on injured reserve.

The Packers feel Luchey, who played for the Cincinnati Bengals during his first four seasons in the league, is a solid run blocker who would have started if Lorenzo Neal wasn't playing in front of him.

The 6-foot-1, 270-pound Luchey started three games last year for the Bengals and served mainly as a blocker. But with Corey Dillon and Brandon Bennett out with injuries, Luchey moved to running back and carried 12 times for 59 yards and two short touchdown runs in Cincinnati's victory over the New Orleans Saints Dec. 22.

Luchey finished the 2000 season as team's top fullback, but suffered a torn left knee ligament (ACL) during the May 2001 minicamp, and the rehab from that injury cost him the first 10 games of the 2001 season.

"He's a very good athlete who handles it (270 pounds) well," Packers running backs coach Sylvester Croom told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "He's always been that big, even in college. But when he came in for a visit (March 3) we discussed that you've got to be in tip-top shape."

Luchey received strong interest from Cleveland and Butch Davis, who coached Luchey at Miami-Florida. Luchey met with the Browns on March 2 and Packers on March 3 before agreeing to terms of a long-term deal with the Packers.

Luchey, who will be 26 on March 30, legally adopted his grandfather's last name last summer. He was known as Nick Williams. His full name is James Nicolas Luchey.

Luchey was drafted by Cincinnati in fifth round (135th overall) of the NFL draft in 1999. In 1997 and '98 he was the lead blocker for Edgerrin James, who rushed for 2,500 yards in those two seasons.

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