Unsigned Raji Passes Time in GB
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Defensive lineman B.J. Raji, the Green Bay Packers' top draft pick this year, stayed busy during the opening week of the team's training camp.
Just not on the field.
"I wish he was here. I'm sure he wishes he was here, too," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after practice Friday.
Raji is one of five players taken in the top 10 of the draft who are unsigned, and the prolonged contract holdout likely will keep him from participating in the Packers' first significant preseason action.
The Packers are getting ready for their scrimmage before a large crowd at Lambeau Field on Saturday night. Raji has been in Green Bay all week waiting to sign a contract.
Since he is barred from team facilities and being on the practice field with teammates, how is Raji passing the time?
"Cooking and all of that, fixing up his townhouse," Raji's mother, Mamie, told The Associated Press by phone Friday from her home in Washington Township, N.J. "He's waiting."
Mamie and husband Busari have kept in daily contact with their oldest child as he sits tight in his new hometown faced with an ongoing contract stalemate. "He's fine, he's happy, he's loving his townhouse and everything," Mamie Raji said.
The Packers completed their first week of training camp Friday, a total of nine practices that didn't include a young player Green Bay identified to be a key component in its transition to a 3-4 defensive scheme.
The former Boston College standout, taken with the ninth overall pick of the NFL draft in April, was penciled in during offseason workouts to be a starter at defensive end and also fill in at his natural position of nose tackle.
"B.J. Raji, he's a young player involved in a business situation," McCarthy said. "As far as percentages and how much he's missed (in training camp) it's truly to his benefit to get in camp."
How much progress, if any, has been made in contract negotiations between the Packers and Raji's agent, David Dunn, isn't known. Messages left at Dunn's office Friday weren't returned.
Raji went through all offseason workouts with the Packers and spoke confidently in June that he would be signed before training camp started Saturday.
But the delay for Green Bay in getting Raji signed and into camp apparently is tied to unsigned wide receiver Michael Crabtree and the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers took Crabtree with the 10th overall pick, a spot below Raji.
Crabtree is reportedly seeking a deal commensurate to a top-five pick, as he was projected to be before a foot injury affected his draft stock. Also unsigned are three players who were picked ahead of Raji: Seattle linebacker Aaron Curry (No. 4) and offensive tackles Andre Smith (No. 6) of Cincinnati and Eugene Monroe (No. 8) of Jacksonville. "It's part of the business," McCarthy said. "It's something I have no control."
NOTES: Packers TE Tory Humphrey underwent surgery Friday for a broken forearm he suffered in practice Thursday. McCarthy said the operation went fine but no decision has been made on whether Humphrey will be out for the season. McCarthy said the status of injured players for the scrimmage won't be determined until the staff meets Saturday morning. Among the 12 players who didn't participate in team drills Friday were DE Johnny Jolly (ankle), RB Brandon Jackson (shoulder), WR Ruvell Martin (groin), S Anthony Smith (groin), CB Pat Lee (back) and LBs Jeremy Thompson (groin), Clay Matthews (hamstring) and Nick Barnett, who is on the physically unable to perform list. CB Al Harris and receivers coach Jimmy Robinson weren't at practice Friday, as they attended a private memorial for former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson in Philadelphia. Johnson, 68, died of skin cancer July 28. Rain forced the Packers to move their practice inside. Tickets remain for the scrimmage. They are available through Ticketmaster until 3:30 p.m. Saturday and can be purchased in person at the Packers' ticket office at Lambeau Field beginning at 10:30 a.m. Saturday until the scrimmage.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)