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Professional football roundup

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 25, 2001


Levens could be ex-Packer on Tuesday

INDIANAPOLIS -- Green Bay has three offers on the table for running back Dorsey Levens, and if he doesn't take one of them by Tuesday, his career with the Packers will be over.

Coach Mike Sherman said Saturday that he spoke by telephone with Levens on Friday in an attempt to persuade him to accept one of the offers so the team wouldn't be forced to release him.

The offers range in structure from incentive-laden to straight base salary. The similarity is that they all require Levens to take a large pay cut from the $6-million he is set to earn in 2001.

"I didn't beg him," Sherman said. "But I think he understands how I feel. I've never hidden my feelings about Dorsey Levens. I think, as I've said, many, many times, he's a consummate professional. He's a great influence on the players, young and old.

"It's pretty much his decision what he's going to do. You only have X amount of dollars. It's all you can work with. It's the nature of the way the game is played."

The Packers are roughly $11-million over the cap heading into the Thursday deadline for meeting the $67.4-million limit. Levens' salary represents $7.4-million of the Packers' cap total, but if he is released the Packers would gain $4.6-million.

If Levens takes the pay cut, the savings to the Packers would probably be around $3.6-million.

According to Sherman, Levens didn't bring up money during their conversation. His main concern was how he would fit in with running back Ahman Green next season.

"He just wanted to know if he was going to get a fair shake," Sherman said. "It was more how I saw his role. Last year our No. 2 tailback started 11 ballgames. In the National Football League, you need two to make a run at this thing.

"I explained to him I really want a championship team and he helps us do that. He allows us to do that. He can be a major contributor to that. I can't guarantee minutes or snaps or how many times he'll carry the football. But if he's healthy, he's going to be able to play."

Sherman said he had not spoken to tackle Earl Dotson, but he hoped to persuade him to also accept the Packers' low offer. If Dotson does not take the offer on the table, he will be released, saving the team $1.95-million in cap room.

Also, former linebacker Johnny Holland and the late broadcaster Ray Scott have been named to the Packer Hall of Fame.

BRONCOS: Denver cut former Pro Bowl tackle Tony Jones, 35, less than a week before he was to be paid a $1.5-million roster bonus.

SEAHAWKS: Coach/general manager Mike Holmgren was one of several executives who spoke to Sherman about trading for backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Seattle holds the Nos. 7 and 10 draft picks in the first round.

Workouts overrated

Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick, projected to be the first player taken in April's draft, didn't throw the ball this weekend at the scouting combine. Several players didn't run the 40-yard dash. Some didn't even do the bench press.

Of course, there were player interviews, agonizingly thorough physical exams, the vaunted Wonderlic psychological test, and the obligatory drug tests, but if players are not going to break a sweat, is the combine of any value anymore?

"It definitely has a value, because the biggest deal is not the athletic evaluation," said Butch Davis, new Browns coach, echoing the sentiments of several coaches and personnel specialists who believe that a player's athleticism can be evaluated largely through scouting college games and watching tapes.

"It's the opportunity to sit down and look a guy straight in the eye for 20 minutes and ask him some tough questions."

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