By GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman's standards, the Green Bay Packers' first mini-camp of 2003 was a success.
There were no major injuries suffered during the Packers' five days of practice and Sherman came away feeling positive about the team's chemistry and work ethic.
"I thought we instituted pretty good practice habits," he said Sunday. "I think everything starts with practice, and how we want to practice I felt was demonstrated (at mini-camp) ... So from that point it's a good indoctrination into the upcoming (June) mini-camp and the preseason."
Following are some closing notes from mini-camp ...
See You Later
Due to NFL regulations, Oregon State linebacker Nick Barnett and defensive tackle James Lee won't be able to attend the Packers' June mini-camp.
The rule, designed to keep athletes in school long enough to get their college degrees, prohibits rookies from taking part in more than one camp while the academic term is in session, unless the athlete has already graduated.
The spring term at OSU will not be completed until after mini-camp, so Barnett and Lee will have to receive their Packers education correspondence style.
"We're going to give them a video playbook, which they can study back there in Corvallis, (Ore.)," Sherman said. "Coaches will spend a lot of time with them this summer and meet with them as much as we can.
"The situation is what it is: they can't leave until their graduating class graduates. Those are the rules. I don't worry about rules that are made that we have to abide by. That's just the way it is."
Last season Marques Anderson missed June mini-camp due to the same restriction, as did linebacker Na'il Diggs in 2000.
Barnett expressed frustration over not being able to participate in June camp, but praised the NFL rule that's keeping him out.
"Personally, I'm a little upset, but it's a way for students to stay in school and graduate, so I can't hate on that," Barnett said. "I'm like a little kid, I'm kind of pouting about it. But I think it's for the better in the long run for the whole NFL."
So Far, So Good
With only three days in which to judge them, Sherman understandably refused to make grand predictions for the Packers' 2003 rookie class, but he did express his pleasure with the newcomers.
"For what we asked them to do, they did a very nice job," Sherman said.
"I think Barnett, his ability to make big plays time and time again showed up. But then again, we have to see that with the pads on and people coming at him with live bullets. But he has the innate ability to make plays. He was always around the ball, forcing fumbles, recovering fumbles, knocking balls down. So from that standpoint, that was encouraging.
"I thought (defensive tackle) Kenny Peterson showed some pass rush skills in the 1-on-1 (drills) and I thought that was encouraging as well.
"Everybody had their moment in the sun, so to speak, but we'll have to wait and see how exciting it is when we put pads on."
Injuries haven't been kind to defensive end Jamal Reynolds since the Packers made him their first-round pick in 2001, but 2003 is off to a much better start.
Reynolds said his left knee, which experienced tenderness and swelling all of last season, is nearly 100 percent -- leaps and bounds ahead of where it was last year at this time, when he was coming off arthroscopic surgery.
"I can tell a big difference," Reynolds said. "I'm pretty pleased with how it feels right now, just glad to be out there back in action."
Able to play in only 13 games over his two NFL seasons, Reynolds expressed confidence that he can turn things around in 2003.
"I look at it as a big year for me and I'm ready to show people what I can do," he said. "I've gotten out there and made plays when I've had the opportunities, but I feel the more opportunities (I get), the more plays I can make."
Sherman had nothing but good things to say about Reynolds' mini-camp performance.
"He showed a good burst off the ball, had some pretty good pressures at times and great effort at times," Sherman said. "I'm encouraged by that."
Shepherd Steps Up
With Darren Sharper and Marques Anderson nursing injuries, third-year NFL veteran defensive back Jacoby Shepherd made good with his increased reps at mini-camp.
Assessed Sherman: "He has excellent ball skills. He has pretty good instincts and great body size (6-foot-2, 195 pounds). I want to see how he plays with pads on, but I was fairly impressed with what he did."
Sherman also offered kudos to fifth-year veteran Antuan Edwards.
Terrific For Tide
Only a day after the University of Alabama fired Mike Price as its head football coach, Sherman was asked how he would respond if the Crimson Tide contacted him in regard to Packers running backs coach Sylvester Croom, an Alabama alumnus.
"I'd tell them there probably isn't a better prospect in all of football, college or pros, for that job than Sylvester Croom," Sherman said. "I'd hate to lose him because he's such a quality person and coach ... but that's what I'd have to tell him, because that's what I believe.
"There's no better candidate in my mind. From my outside perspective, I just know what he is and what he's all about and what he would mean to that university."
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