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Lewis makes his Lambeau return

By ERNEST HOOPER

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 5, 2000


There's a sense of history for anyone who visits Green Bay's Lambeau Field, but the memories are personal for Vikings offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis.

Lewis, who returns to Lambeau on Monday night, was the Packers offensive coordinator for eight seasons before being fired at the end of the 1999 season. It would be easy for Lewis to get hit with an array of mixed emotions, but he's going to try to rise above the fray.

"I probably won't come out on the field early," Lewis said. "I'll probably just stay inside. I don't want to get caught up ... I don't want to get caught up in the emotions of the game. I want to come out and function and think clearly, like you have to do in a game. I can't get caught up in the emotions of going back."

Lewis was offensive coordinator for coach Mike Holmgren from 1992 through 1998. It was a time that saw the development of quarterback Brett Favre, three NFC Central Division titles, two trips to the Super Bowl, a victory in Super Bowl XXXI. But he was always considered a Holmgren understudy because the offensive guru called all the plays for Favre.

Last year, after Holmgren left for Seattle, Lewis stepped out of that rather large shadow. On a staff headed by Ray Rhodes that included current Vikings defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas, defensive assistant Chuck Knox Jr. and receivers coach Charlie Baggett, Lewis was given the chance to call plays for the first time.

After an injury-riddled 8-8 season, Rhodes' staff was fired by Packers GM Ron Wolf. But Green Bay hasn't fared much better for new coach Mike Sherman.

The Vikings, on the other hand, are 7-1 and Lewis is running the show for the fifth-ranked offense in the NFL. An offense that has a first-year starter at quarterback.

Lewis is quick to say he feels no bitterness for what happened last season. Still, it's clear it is not the way he wanted his tenure in Green Bay to end.

"It was a bad taste because of the way it ended," Lewis said. "But you have to get over that, think about all the nice things that happened when you were there. When you think back and reminisce, you don't want to reminisce about the last year. There were a lot of great years before that. I try to concentrate on the good years."

SACK ARTISTS: A lot has been made of the Bucs' pursuit of the NFL sack record of 72, but they aren't alone. The Saints are on pace to have 72. It helps to have defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, who is making a strong push for his first Pro Bowl despite being one of the smallest at his position in the league at 272 pounds. He is tied with Philadelphia's Hugh Douglas for the NFL sacks lead with 12.

Glover ravaged enemy offenses during the Saints' 4-0 October, recording nine sacks. He earned a $700,000 bonus by making his 11th sack. He needs one more sack to surpass the 121/2-sack incentive clause in his contract that would pay him an additional $1.3-million.

"It's a beautiful thing," Glover said. "But I'll never let that interfere with the team goals and our team concept."

TAYLOR-MADE?: Don't be surprised if Jason Taylor has a big day for the Dolphins. The speed rush end faces rookie Stockar McDougle in Detroit today. McDougle, who will be making his first start, is a first-round pick who has been hampered by injury all season.

But Bobby Ross, weary of seeing Charlie Batch get beat up week after week, has no choice. Regular left tackle Ray Roberts is out with an Achilles' injury.

"He's been here a good while," Ross said. "He's a first-rounder. It's time to step up and play. I'm really kind of anxious to see how we're going to do."

On the other side of the line, second-year tackle Aaron Taylor will have to contend with Trace Armstrong. ET CETERA: Walter Payton died of bile duct cancer Nov. 1, 1999. More than 565,000 people have joined the Illinois Organ/Tissue Donor Registry since February 1999, when the NFL's all-time leading rusher announced he had a rare liver disease and needed a transplant. Since his death, 306,771 names have been added. There are almost 5-million people on the Illinois registry, the largest in the nation. ... Six former Vikings quarterbacks are playing in the NFL. Brad Johnson (Redskins), Rich Gannon (Raiders) and Jay Fiedler (Dolphins) are starters and Jeff George (Redskins), Randall Cunningham (Cowboys) and Warren Moon (Chiefs) are backups. ... Titans RB Eddie George has 739 yards rushing, putting him on pace for 1,478. He could join Eric Dickerson as the only backs in history to rush for at least 1,200 yards in their first five seasons.

- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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