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Sherman Comments On Nickerson Signing

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Hardy Nickerson

Completing a process that began in February when GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman and the Packers front office calculated Hardy Nickerson among the possible salary cap casualties of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Packers signed the veteran linebacker Wednesday evening.

They weren't the only bidders.

Released June 3 by the Jaguars, Nickerson met with team officials and attended a Packers mini-camp practice last Thursday before heading east to meet with the Philadelphia Eagles, who had also expressed interest in the five-time Pro Bowler.

Nickerson has been quoted as saying that he wanted to sign with the team that would give him the greatest opportunity to win a Super Bowl, something he's never done in his 15-year career.

"Hardy Nickerson is a welcomed addition to our defense and our team," Sherman said. "He brings with him a wealth of valuable experience as a linebacker and class as a person.

"The thing I think I like most about Hardy Nickerson is that he wants what I want -- to win a championship."

Although some reports have surfaced suggesting that the Packers were dismayed with the progress of second-year veteran Torrance Marshall, who has been playing middle linebacker with the first-string defense during mini-camps, Sherman challenged the notion that Marshall hasn't met expectations.

"In regard to that issue, I don't know where the information has come out," Sherman said. "I've read it a couple times that Torrance Marshall hasn't learned our defense -- he's learned our defense extremely well. I've never made that comment that he hasn't.

"He's done a fantastic job picking up our defense. He had as good a day as you could have yesterday (Thursday), I thought. I have absolutely no disappointment or angst about him at all. He's done a tremendous job, he's ahead of where I thought he would be at this time."

While also giving the Packers immediate experience at middle linebacker, Sherman is hopeful that the presence of Nickerson will accelerate Marshall's growth as a player. Sherman refused to suggest that Nickerson's contract comes with a guaranteed starting spot.

"A lot of things happen before that first ballgame, so we'll see how it plays out," he said. "Certainly we didn't bring (Nickerson) in here to be a special teams player for us . . .

"I'm anxious to get that caliber of player and person on our team. We can just be a better because of it. How it all pans out, we'll just wait and see."

In the twilight of his career, Nickerson proved that he can still produce, rounding up a franchise-record 230 tackles for the Jaguars last season, according to team statistics. However, he missed most of the 2000 season with a knee injury, suiting up in only six games.

Although Nickerson will turn 37 in September, Packers safety Darren Sharper said you wouldn't know it to look at him.

"When he came to mini-camp I met him and it looked like the guy was 29 or 30," Sharper said. "Anytime you add a player of his caliber at any position, it makes you a better team. By now we kind of know that we're at a level where we can get to our ultimate goal.

"You add a guy with his experience, the things he's done in his league and just his name, that puts you over the top of that level so we're really excited."

Over 15 NFL seasons, Nickerson has played with the Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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