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Packers cut former top pick Couch after struggling in preseason

Posted: Sunday September 5, 2004 6:33PM; Updated: Sunday September 5, 2004 8:34PM
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Tim Couch
Tim Couch is the second quarterback from the first round of the 1999 draft to be cut by Green Bay in two years.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Quarterback Tim Couch, the top pick in the 1999 NFL draft, was cut Sunday by the Green Bay Packers, who hoped he'd be an upgrade over Doug Pederson as Brett Favre's primary backup.

Couch was bedeviled by a sore throwing arm and an inability to grasp the intricate West Coast offense in such a short time and couldn't even unseat Craig Nall as the Packers' third quarterback.

"He just wasn't productive enough," Packers coach-general manager Mike Sherman said. "He's a good kid, he worked, he went to the meetings and all those things. It just didn't work out."

Couch completed just 11 of 34 passes for 96 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions in three preseason games.

The Packers signed Couch on June 16 after he was released by the Cleveland Browns, who made him the first overall pick five years ago, but waited to waive him until Green Bay's final minicamp passed.

Couch was hurt by an offseason of uncertainty. After a rocky 2003 season, he was in limbo in Cleveland, where he started 59 games, and once the Browns signed free agent Jeff Garcia in March, Couch was basically banned from the their training facility.

Did Sherman buy damaged goods?

"I don't think so," Sherman said. "I think what's possible is he didn't throw the ball in the offseason."

The Packers didn't work out Couch, however, before signing him to a one-year contract that included a $625,000 bonus.

"We took a shot in hoping he could be the guy. I don't think it's the first time in the league that you were wrong on somebody. It certainly won't be my last time and it wasn't my first time," Sherman said. "You hit on players and you miss on players. It happens every day in this league.

"It's unfortunate. I'm disappointed it didn't work out. I really thought with the tapes I studied last year, I really thought it would work out. It didn't.

"I talked to him about it a little while ago. We're both disappointed."

Couch canceled his cell phone number and was unavailable for comment Sunday.

On Friday night, he said, "They know I'm brand new to this and I don't know if they'll take that into consideration or not."

Couch's agent, Tom Condon, didn't return a phone call by The Associated Press on Sunday.

Sherman said he didn't think the Packers overworked Couch, who missed much of the last two weeks with a sore biceps in his throwing arm. He said he liked the way Pederson played and how Nall returned from a pulled hamstring to hold onto their jobs.

The Packers also made the rare move of keeping two punters: third-round draft pick B.J. Sander, who had punts of 29, 20 and 5 yards in the preseason, and 15-year veteran Bryan Barker.

One of them is a short-timer, and it's probably Barker, who would be due his entire $760,000 salary if he's on the roster at 3 p.m. Saturday, something that also would cost the team $455,000 against its cap.

The Packers moved up in the draft to select Sander out of Ohio State in the third round and they gave him a signing bonus of $583,625.

Sander has allowed the intense scrutiny from fans and coaches to get to him, special teams coach John Bonamego said.

"As a punter, everything you do is on public display. The 70-year-old lady at the top of the stands can tell if you did well or did bad," Bonamego said. "It's not that way with a lineman who missed a block on the back side."

The Packers also cut safety Curtis Fuller, defensive ends Kenny Holmes and Tyrone Rogers, defensive tackle Larry Smith and cornerback Chris Watson. Wideouts Carl Ford, Kelvin Kight and Scottie Vines were waived, along with safety Julius Curry, tight end Tony Donald, linebacker Steve Josue, quarterback Scott McBrien and center Scott Wells.

Wideout Shockmain Davis (fibula) was waived/injured and defensive end Chukie Nwokorie (hamstring) received an injury settlement.

Also, the Packers obtained defensive end R-Kal Truluck from Kansas City for fifth- and sixth-round picks in the 2005 draft and traded a conditional 2006 draft pick to Miami for offensive lineman Brad Bedell.

As for holdout Mike McKenzie, Sherman said he has no feel whether his recalcitrant cornerback was any closer to reporting now that he'll start missing weekly paychecks of $160,000.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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