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American Football: Packers McKenzie ends holdout

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posted on Sep, 16 2004 @ 10:35 AM
Mike McKenzie returned to the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday after holding out throughout training camp and missing the season opener.

"Mike McKenzie is back here to play for the Packers, and that is where we are right now. We will take it one day at a time," coach and general manager Mike Sherman said Wednesday.

McKenzie, with his familiar dreadlocks flowing to his shoulders, practiced with the team Wednesday as the Packers prepared for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears in Green Bay.

Sherman said McKenzie's contract has not been reworked, and the team has two weeks to activate him to play.

Sherman met with McKenzie and his agent Wednesday morning at their request - just two days after the Packers opened the season by overpowering defending NFC champion Carolina 24-14.

"It looked like he had been training and was in shape and that's a positive thing. We are going to try to get him ready as soon as possible," Sherman said.

Just because he's back doesn't mean McKenzie has resolved his differences with the Packers. There's always the possibility they could still part ways by the Oct. 19 trading deadline.

McKenzie's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, declined to say whether the Packers agreed to waive any fines they might have levied. McKenzie was subject to about $250,000 in fines for skipping training camp. He also missed out on $200,000 in offseason bonuses while holding out and his first weekly paycheck of $161,000.

"Mike's back and that's that," Rosenhaus told The Associated Press. "I really can't delve into" the discussions with Sherman.

Packers spokesman Jeff Blumb said McKenzie indicated he had no plans to talk with reporters Wednesday or perhaps at all during the season.

McKenzie, the team's starting left cornerback since 1999, became upset this offseason when several cornerbacks of lesser talent surpassed him in compensation. McKenzie is entering the third season of a five-year, $17.1 million contract he signed in January 2002.

The Packers allowed Rosenhaus, and before him Brian Parker, to shop McKenzie, and Dallas and New Orleans showed the most interest. But the Packers' asking price of a first-round draft pick and a starter proved too high.

Sherman said he expected no problem regarding McKenzie's attitude toward the Packers, even though Rosenhaus has said McKenzie's No. 1 priority is a trade.

"He has always been professional, always done his job. He's been no problem for me in regard to getting ready to play a football game," Sherman said. "He loves his teammates. He wants to win."

The Packers over the weekend gave cornerback Al Harris, the starter on the right side, a five-year, nearly $19 million contract extension that included more than $7 million in bonuses.

The Packers drafted cornerbacks Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas with their top two picks in April.

Veteran Michael Hawthorne started in McKenzie's left cornerback spot in the Packers' victory over the Panthers on Monday night.


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