Originally created 07/20/98

NFL notes: Super Bowl on Packers' mind again



GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have begun their quest to make both history and amends.

Hit hard in free agency but still among the NFL's powers, the Packers opened training camp on Sunday with ambitions of becoming the first NFC team to reach the Super Bowl three years in a row.

And, of course, they'd like to atone for their failure against Denver in the last one, the first loss for an NFC team in 14 Super Bowls.

Things started with a scare.

During seven-on-seven drills, first-round draft choice Vonnie Holliday , who weighs 300 pounds, fell on quarterback Brett Favre, the three-time NFL MVP. Favre was all right but coach Mike Holmgren told his players to be careful in practice.

"It's frightening because here you have the key to our team," Holmgren said. "And you know it was an accident. But it gave me a chance to re-emphasize to the team, `OK, we have to be careful."'

Holmgren began his seventh season in Green Bay -- and possibly last if he opts for a coach-general manager's job elsewhere -- without Pro Bowl running back Dorsey Levens, who is holding out for a four-year contract worth more than $21 million. But another established running back was on hand -- free agent Raymont Harris, who signed a one-year, $1.3 million contract over the weekend.

The Packers also addressed their other pressing need, the secondary, when they agreed to terms with Terry McDaniel, a former five-time Pro Bowl cornerback for Oakland. He reportedly agreed to a one-year deal for $800,000, spurning a two-year, $1.8 million offer from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

PATRIOTS: Pete Carroll stood in front of a large backdrop featuring the Patriots logo. There was no sign of Bill Parcells hovering over his shoulder.

Relaxed as he began his second training camp as New England's coach Sunday at Smithfield, R.I., Carroll continues to put his mark on a team he took over eight days after Parcells coached it in the 1997 Super Bowl.

"Hopefully," strong safety Lawyer Milloy said, "everybody can just realize that this is Pete's team, not coach Parcells' team anymore."

That was obvious from the questions at Carroll's opening 20-minute news conference. The 16th question was the first that referred to his predecessor.

The rest dealt with training camp -- details about injuries, daily workout schedules and a replacement for running back Curtis Martin, who left after last season to join Parcells with the New York Jets.

Carroll will have to decide whether his first-round draft picks, running back Robert Edwards from Georgia and cornerback Tebucky Jones from Syracuse, can start in place of Martin and Jimmy Hitchcock, now with Minnesota.

Edwards, from Washington County, Ga., signed a five-year, $5.7 million contract last week.

RAMS: On Saturday, a day before the start of training camp, the St. Louis Rams signed first-round draft pick Grant Wistrom to a six-year, $12.75 million contract.

Wistrom, a defensive end from Nebraska, was expected on the practice field Sunday at Western Illinois University when rookies, quarterbacks and selected veterans took the field for the first time.

Wistrom, selected sixth overall, is the highest draft pick to sign. The previous high pick signed was Dallas defensive end Greg Ellis, the eighth overall selection.

FREE AGENTS: They rang the curtain down on the 1998 free-agency signing period last week with 113 unrestricted free agents signing with new teams. That's an increase from last year's figure of 87. Another 113 signed with their old teams.

The record for movement was set in 1995 when 173 changed teams, although clubs are now making more effort to keep their own players.

Meanwhile, teams that have the rights to the six remaining unsigned franchise players, including Dorsey Levens of Green Bay and Wally Williams of the Baltimore Ravens, can now sign them to long-term deals and use the franchise designation for another player next year.