The Green Bay Packers Friday named Edgar Bennett, the team's leading rusher when it won the Super Bowl in 1996, running backs coach. Mike Sherman, Executive Vice President and Head Coach, announced the move.
Bennett, 35, replaces Johnny Roland, who will accept a similar position with the New Orleans Saints.
"I'm excited about Edgar Bennett becoming our running backs coach," Head Coach Mike Sherman said. "Over the past few years in his role assisting with the running backs, he has continually demonstrated the ability to be a successful coach in this league. Each year I gave him additional responsibility in his coaching duties and he performed very well. He's a natural for the position. His attention to detail and relationship with the players will serve him well - they trust him and his knowledge of the game."
A mentor and advisor, Bennett spent the last four seasons in charge of the team's player development department. In that capacity, he helped players acclimate to their roles as Green Bay Packers, both on and off the field, especially in terms of their expected contributions to their teammates, the community and the organization. In 2003, the league recognized his department as best in the NFC.
Bennett also provided a key communications channel between the players and coaches, both during the week and on the sideline during games. In fact, Sherman has credited Bennett as the No. 1 reason why the Packers enjoy excellent team chemistry.
While this marks Bennett's first career coaching position, he is no stranger to coaching. A former NFL veteran, he has assisted both Roland and his predecessor, Sylvester Croom, in coaching the running backs over the last few years. On the personnel front, he has assisted the scouts by conducting interviews with potential free agents and draft picks, and also performed evaluations on selected players.
Green Bay's fourth-round draft selection in 1992, he is the ninth-ranking rusher in Packers history. The Florida State product gained 3,353 yards over his five seasons (1992-96) in Green Bay. En route, in 1995 he became the first player to rush for 1,000 yards since Terdell Middleton in 1978. He also continues to hold the club single-season record for receptions by a running back with 78, set in 1994.
After suffering a season-ending torn Achilles' heel in the Packers' 1997 preseason, a successfully rehabbed Bennett signed with Chicago as an unrestricted free agent in February of 1998 and went on to lead the Bears in rushing that season. After one more year with Chicago, Bennett retired from football in 2000. He rejoined the Packers in a front-office role April 10, 2001.
A four-year starter at fullback for Florida State (1987, 1989-91), Bennett holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the university. Previously, he had been a Class 4A first-team all-state back at Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, where he was a teammate of former Packers safety LeRoy Butler, who later also would be his teammate at FSU and in Green Bay.
Bennett and his wife Mindy have two children, Edgar and Elyse.
With Bennett's promotion, he will assist with both the hiring and transition process of selecting an individual to head the team's player development department.
Also Friday, the team announced the signing of linebacker Ike Emodi to a reserve/future contract. Emodi originally signed with the team Dec. 15 and spent the season's final four weeks on the practice squad. A 6-3, 234-pound player out of East Carolina, Emodi entered the 2004 NFL Supplemental Draft but was not selected. The Packers gave him his only NFL tryout, in July, and he signed his first professional contract with them last month.