Packers Happy About Tailback Tandem
Saturday, July 28, 2001
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- The only damper on the Green Bay Packers' first day of full-squad workouts was the showers that forced them inside the Don Hutson Center on Saturday.
Other than that, there were smiles all around, and one of the biggest reasons was seeing the tailback tandem they'd love to unleash on the league this season: Dorsey Levens and Ahman Green.
Levens, a former Pro Bowl player, is coming off another round of rehab following operations on both knees last season. Green, just 24 but entering his fourth NFL season, is coming into his own, having led the team in yards rushing and receiving last year.
Levens took a substantial pay cut to stick around, and Green signed a five-year, $17.5 million deal last week, but the starting job is up for grabs, coach Mike Sherman said.
``But there will be some times we'll get them both in the backfield,'' Sherman promised. ``That won't be a priority. But they both can do some pretty neat things.''
On Saturday, Green took the first handoff, Levens the second.
Then, they both lined up and took turns out of a two-back set.
``The best,'' is how Levens described the tailback tandem. ``That's the way I feel, honestly. I don't think anybody can stay with us. Especially when we're both in the backfield at the same time. It's going to be hard to deal with.''
Levens and Green both describe their fight for the job as a friendly competition that will only make the Packers better.
``There's no hate,'' Levens said. ``We like each other.''
``I've always been in that position,'' he said. ``Good, friendly, brotherly competition.''
The tailbacks aren't the only ones feeling good around Green Bay. The Packers and their fans are certain they can return to the playoffs after a two-year lull.
After winning their last four games to finish 9-7 last year, the Packers had a remarkably successful offseason, retaining free agents Darren Sharper and Ryan Longwell and persuading Levens and Earl Dotson to stick around.
They signed all six of their draft picks before training camp started, including top pick Jamal Reynolds, who could give them the kind of pass rush they've lacked since Reggie White left.
``It reminds me of ' 96 when I first got here,'' cornerback Tyrone Williams said. ``Everybody was loving one another, that's how we are right now.''
There was even good news on the injury front as Williams, (groin), Dotson (back), Vonnie Holliday (elbow) and John Thierry (three offseason operations) also practiced.
And Sherman, who took over general manager duties upon Ron Wolf's retirement, tried to quell any early negativity at camp by ordering defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt to address the media about his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
``Right, well, I'm sorry that I let the team down, my fans, you know, my family and everybody's who's counting on me this year,'' said Hunt, a talented third-year player expected to play a significant role on the team's injury-depleted line.
``And basically I'm just focusing on correcting my situation and making it up to everybody. Even myself.''
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press Information Services, all rights reserved.
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