Adding experienced depth to the offensive backfield and return potential to the special teams, the Green Bay Packers have signed veteran running back Lamar Smith, a 10th-year veteran, and Antonio Chatman, a record-breaking Arena Football League performer, GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman announced Monday.
The 5-11, 230-pound Smith, who spent the 2002 season with Carolina, has rushed for nearly 5,000 yards (4,792) over his NFL career. In 2002, a workhorse for the first 11 games, he emerged as the Panthers' leading rusher with 737 yards in 209 attempts, a long of 59 yards and 7 touchdowns, closing out the season with 904 total yards from scrimmage before being given a paid lead of absence on Nov. 29 and eventually being placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury Dec. 18.
Originally selected in the third round of the 1994 draft by the Seahawks, with whom he spent his first four NFL seasons, the 32-year-old Houston University alumnus had his most productive experience as a member Miami of the Dolphins, amassing 2,107 rushing yards over the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
His 309 carries set a Miami team record in 2000 and his 14 rushing touchdowns and 16 total touchdowns tied for second in the American Football Conference and third in the NFL that season. Smith's 1,139 yards rushing also were a career high, his output including a 155-yard rushing performance against the Jets (Oct. 23) that included a 68-yard touchdown excursion that tied the longest run of his career.
He went on to climax his '00 campaign by establishing an NFL playoff record with 40 rushing attempts against the Indianapolis Colts, rolling up 209 yards – the second-highest single game total in NFL postseason history.
The 5-9, 177-pound Chatman, a former University of Cincinnati standout, had a spectacular 2003 season with the Chicago Rush, breaking the Arena Football League's all-purpose yards record, amassing 3,678 yards in 18 games.
En route, Chatman caught 123 passes for 1,608 yards and 29 touchdowns and returned 84 kicks for 2,062 yards and 7 scores while becoming only the fourth player in AFL history with more than 25 receiving touchdowns, 100-plus receptions and 1,000-plus receiving yards and 1,000-plus return yards in the same season.
Earlier a two-year letterman at wide receiver at the University of Cincinnati, Chatman was the Bearcats' leader in both receiving yards (609) and all-purpose yards (1,257) as a senior in 2000.
Signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Francisco 49ers, he subsequently was waived during training camp.
Smith and Chatman, who joined the Packers on the practice field today, have been assigned jersey numbers 25 and 2, respectively.