Gilbert Brown is back…officially…and for good.
Brown, arguably the most dominating nose tackle in professional football, was not in evidence when Packers veterans reported to training camp last week.
But Tuesday, the nine-year veteran – who had not taken part in the team's two off-season mini-camps – proved his heart is permanently entrenched in Titletown by affixing his signature to a multi-year contract.
A contract, in keeping with his announced wishes, that assures he will retire as a Green Bay Packer.
The 32-year-old Brown, who had been working out under a personal trainer at his alma mater, the University of Kansas, prior to returning to Green Bay, will join the Packers on the practice field this afternoon.
Sherman, aware Brown has missed nine games over the past two years because of various injuries, is counting upon a new approach to enhance the veteran nose tackle's on-field appearances.
"He does give us a big body in there," the Packers' coach has said in addressing the subject, "and I have a plan for how we are going to utilize his talents this season. And, hopefully, it will be a plan that will keep him on the field, maybe more during the season but maybe less during the game."
Brown's position coach, Jethro Franklin, also is hopeful Brown's return can pay added dividends. He says of him, "We still feel that he is a force when he's in there. We just have to do – from a monitoring standpoint – everything we can to make sure that we're taking every way possible to assure that he's in there. I feel good about him as a player – we'll see how it goes. His weight's been real good the last couple years, so he's shown the dedication there alone. His experience is the biggest asset which makes him a leader of this team."
Franklin also has noted that No. 93, the dean of his platoon as a 10-year pro, sets an emotional tone for the defense.
"He makes a big play and he does the old 'grave-digger' routine," Franklin said, "and gets everyone all fired up…It sends a message, you know."
Brown played in 12 of 16 games in 2002, with 11 starts, posting 36 total tackles, including 23 unassisted stops. He also was credited with one pass defensed and one forced fumble.
The mountainous Detroit native, allowed to sit out the 2000 season because of weight and related injury problems, resurrected his playing career in 2001, committing himself to a strict diet and a new lifestyle in an all-out bid to regain a berth on Green Bay's defensive line.
Accordingly, he worked out and lived for a time with Fred Roll, his former strength and conditioning coach at Kansas, and subsequently returned to Green Bay for training camp in July a perceptibly more svelte 339 pounds – and once again equipped with his former quickness.
Brown enters the '03 campaign with 111 career regular-season games played and 89 starts to his credit. He has registered 278 tackles (175 unassisted), including 7 sacks, with 4 passes defensed and 3 forced fumbles.
The massive former Jayhawk has played in 14 postseason games (13 starts) and shares third place on the all-time list with five other players – LeRoy Butler, Mark Chmura, Dorsey Levens, Mike Prior and Reggie White.
In other transactions, offensive guard/tackle Jamil Soriano and linebacker Shantee Orr, rookies from Harvard and Michigan, respectively, were placed on waivers.