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NFL - A Return to Glory in Titletown?

By Scott Nichol
Thursday, August 8th, 2002
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I don't know about you, but when the calender turns to August, my excitement about the start of a new football season increases dramatically. Sure, here in Wisconsin, it means summer is coming to an end as the nights get cooler. But the thought of Brett Favre leading the Packers is big news.

I recently attended a practice in Green Bay. It was nice to see the crowds at the same level as it was in 1996 and 1997. The talk in Titletown is once again geared toward the Super Bowl. A trip into any local coffee shop will find a number of "wanabe coaches" talking about the draft, free agents, and of course, how Vince Lombardi would have done it.

Granted, I am a bit biast since I bleed Green and Gold, but this year, the draft and free agent signings make the Packers look better on paper than they did in the late '90s. The addition of Terry Glenn and Joe Jackson give the Packers two great additions to a team only in need of a few pieces.

I have to give a lot of credit to coach Mike Sherman for letting go of the top three receivers from last year's team. Gone are Antonio Freeman, Bill Schroeder, and Corey Bradford, enter Glenn, Javon Walker, and Robert Ferguson. One thing I noticed while spending hours watching practice last week is that Favre now has better talent to throw to then he has since the days of Sterling Sharpe.

Javon Walker has looked like he can be a gamer if his workouts are any indication of things to come. I also can't leave out Donald Driver who is a hold over from last year. This could give the Packers four players able to catch anything thrown their way. With Ahman Green in the backfield, the offense could almost score at will.

As far as the defense is concerned, the line looks even better then it did in the late '90s with Reggie White and Sean Jones. Last year, the Packers had trouble stopping the run up the middle. This year, the return of Gilbert Brown and Steve Warren should help to control the line much more effectively. With Vonnie Holiday and Johnson on the ends and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila coming in on third and long, quarterbacks may be in for a long season.

The Packers lost a real leader when LeRoy Butler announced his retirement just a few weeks ago. However, the addition of Hardy Nickerson at linebacker and the play of Darren Sharper may take some of the sting out. From what I saw of a few days of practice, and being able to talk to a few of the team's members, the team is looking to take the first NFC North division title. This year could be an exciting one once again here in Wisconsin!

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