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First-rounder Raji's holdout continues

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Associated Press
August 5, 2009
— First-round draft pick B.J. Raji's contract holdout stretched into Tuesday, and it didn't sound like the end was in sight.

General manager Ted Thompson said Packers lead negotiator Russ Ball and Raji's agent, David Dunn, were talking "all the time" and expressed confidence that a deal will be worked out.


Thompson insisted he wasn't getting frustrated.


"It's just part of the business," Thompson said. "If you get yourself all worked up over stuff like that, you'll drive yourself crazy."


Dunn did not immediately respond to a message from The Associated Press on Tuesday.


The Packers took Raji, a defensive lineman out of Boston College, with the No. 9 overall pick in the draft. He is expected to be a major factor in the team's defensive resurgence this season, potentially alternating between defensive end and nose tackle in the Packers' new 3-4 alignment.


Raji took to the scheme quickly during offseason workouts. But with every training camp practice he misses, he falls behind.


"It becomes a large volume," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "Again, he'll have to come in and work on it and just catch up."


And with Raji sitting at home while Packers veterans are going through the daily grind of training camp, it's safe to assume that he will have to open up his newly stuffed wallet to buy some expensive team dinners once he does sign.


"Oh, we've been dreaming up some stuff, man," nose tackle Ryan Pickett said, laughing. "We (haven't) got it yet, but we were seriously just talking about that on the field."


Fellow first-round rookie Clay Matthews III, who also is represented by Dunn and was able to sign in time to report for camp, said Raji wants to join his new teammates as soon as possible.


"I think he's going to have to make it up to them with a few meals here and there," Matthews said. "But overall, yeah, everyone understands. But at the same time, this is a game and business and he needs to get in here. And he'll be doing that. Like I said, he's champing at the bit to get back."


Pickett said the Packers mostly just want to see their new teammate in uniform.


"He's definitely going to help us out," Pickett said. "He's going to be a great player. We're excited about that."


NOTES: There were three fights at the Packers' night practice Tuesday, including one triggered when linebacker Brady Poppinga hit Kregg Lumpkin from behind just after Lumpkin caught a pass. "I'll say this and I probably shouldn't even say it but we were 6-10 last year and we didn't have a ... fight all of training camp. So, I guess we're off to a hell of a start," coach Mike McCarthy said. ... McCarthy said running back Brandon Jackson has a bruised shoulder, and rookie cornerback Brandon Underwood has been dealing with back spasms. Defensive lineman Johnny Jolly remained sidelined with a boot on his ailing right ankle and offensive lineman Daryn Colledge continued to sit after being kneed in the quadriceps Monday. ... Thompson confirmed a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report that the New York Jets have returned a 2010 seventh-round draft pick that was supposed to go to them as part of the Brett Favre trade. Thompson said the pick was a "throw-in" during the original trade, and the Jets gave it back to the Packers because doing so gave them more "flexibility" in the draft.



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