Chatman not necessarily odd man out

Updated: October 1, 2003, 7:54 PM ET

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers don't see Reggie Swinton as Antonio Chatman's replacement -- at least not yet.

The Packers' acquisition of Swinton from Dallas in exchange for a conditional seventh-round 2004 draft pick isn't an indictment of Chatman, coach Mike Sherman said Wednesday.

"I'm very pleased with Chatman," Sherman said. "He's done a very nice job."

Sherman views Swinton as a possible kickoff returner and fourth receiver, and "he also returns punts."

Just like Chatman, who ranks eighth in the NFC in both kickoff and punt returns.

"This makes us a deeper football team at that position and you just never know," Sherman said.

Sherman has had his eye on Swinton since training camp and wanted to beat the Oct. 14 trading deadline to get another returner on the roster.

Still fresh in his mind is last year's debacle in which the Packers got poor production from the terrible trio of Darrien Gordon, J.J. Moses and Eric Metcalf.

Unable to lure a premiere return man in the offseason, the Packers settled on Chatman, a diminutive (5-foot-9, 177 pounds) star of indoor football and NFL novice who has been sure-handed but dances around too much on kickoff returns.

"To be honest with you, if there's five punt returners out there, I'll probably go grab every one of them because of what happened last year," Sherman said.

"I realize the value of a good punt returner and I want to make sure I'm protected there and we're going to evaluate this player and see if he fits in on our football team."

Swinton (6-feet, 186) was the Cowboys' leading kickoff returner each of the last two seasons and led the league with a 38.8-yard average on six kickoff returns in the preseason, including a 96-yarder for a touchdown against Oakland.

After averaging 21.7 yards on three kickoff returns in the opener, however, he was beaten out by rookie Zuriel Smith.

Packers special teams coach John Bonamego said Chatman is ideally suited for punt returns but has gotten better on kickoffs. Still, he's intrigued by Swinton, who will make his debut on special teams Thursday.

To be activated, Swinton must pass a crash course in the West Coast offense.

"That's great," Swinton said. "Playing with Brett Favre, you couldn't ask for anything more as a receiver."

Chatman said the acquisition of Swinton won't make him work any harder.

"I'm always pushing myself because this business you never know, one day you're here and the next day you're gone," Chatman said. "So, I'm not mad. I'm just happy to be here playing."

Swinton, who played at Murray State, joined the Cowboys as a free agent in 2001. He set team records that year for kickoff returns (56) and yards (1,327) and combined kickoff and punt return yards (1,741). Last season, he averaged 24.9 yards per kick return.

He had 14 career catches with Dallas for 180 yards and a touchdown but none this year.

Swinton had just moved into a new house in Dallas when Cowboys coach Bill Parcells called him to say he'd been traded.

"I'm still shocked," Swinton said after snowflakes fell during practice Wednesday.

"I love Dallas. It's only four hours from where I grew up in Arkansas. Here, it's cold. I ain't used to the cold weather," Swinton said. "It's freezing."

Not that he's complaining.

"I want to play, and I don't care where I play," Swinton said. "Now, I'm a Packer and I'll make plays here, too."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index