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Packers' McKenzie now a Saint; Gibbs blasts gear

Mike McKenzie got his wish Monday when he was traded to the New Orleans Saints for a second-round pick in 2005 and a backup quarterback.

"It's time to move on," Packers coach-general manager Mike Sherman said.

Since ending his holdout without retracting his trade request three weeks ago, McKenzie has been paid more than $485,000 but played just nine snaps, all against Chicago. That led fans and teammates to wonder whether he was still holding out but getting paid anyway.

The recalcitrant cornerback sat out the last two games with a mysterious hamstring injury. He was left home when the Packers traveled to Indianapolis two weeks ago and wasn't on the sideline Sunday when the Packers lost to the New York Giants at home.

"Mission accomplished," McKenzie's agent, Drew Rosenhaus told The Associated Press. "It's important to relay that there's no hard feelings on Mike's behalf. He's obviously grateful they were able to work out a deal and there's certainly not going to be any backbiting or any negativity on our behalf ."

Rosenhaus said McKenzie will play under the terms of his current contract, but he hopes to have talks with Saints general manager Mickey Loomis soon about an upgrade.

"(Loomis) understands the dynamics that went into Mike's situation: his contract was obviously an issue," Rosenhaus said. "We hope to get that resolved; whether that happens this season or in the winter, I'm not going to make that an issue. We are certainly not going to try to squeeze the Saints right now in regard to the contract."

The Packers acquired quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan, 25, and the second-round selection in the 2005 draft in return for McKenzie, 28, and a future conditional draft choice. The Packers have been interested in O'Sullivan since the Saints took him in the sixth round of the 2002 draft out of Cal-Davis.

Their interest was heightened when Brett Favre and backup Doug Pederson were injured Sunday. Favre has a mild concussion and is expected to practice this week and extend his record starting streak to 213 games, counting playoffs, against Tennessee next week. But Pederson was undergoing further tests Monday on his ribs and kidneys.

The deal is the Packers' first midseason trade in 23 years involving active players from both teams.

McKenzie, who is earning $2.75 million this year in the middle season of a five-year, $17.1 million deal he signed in January 2002, became upset when several cornerbacks of lesser talent surpassed him in compensation this offseason.

McKenzie instructed agent Brian Parker to seek a contract renegotiation in February, converting a $200,000 workout bonus into two $100,000 roster bonuses due in April and June and removing a de-escalator clause from the contract he signed in 2002.

As the Packers worked to comply with the request, McKenzie said he wanted to be traded instead. Green Bay denied his plea on April 6 and two weeks later drafted cornerbacks Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas with their first two selections.

Parker terminated his working relationship with McKenzie in May and the sixth-year cornerback hired Rosenhaus, his fifth representative in his six-year NFL career.

McKenzie, a starter for Green Bay since his rookie year, has 15 career interceptions. He comes off one of his most productive seasons with four interceptions, 58 tackles (55 solo) and 20 passes broken up.

He was Green Bay's best defender last year and Sherman could have kept him beyond the Oct. 19 trade deadline to get one more year out of him. But McKenzie had become even more of a loner in the locker room and Sherman decided to cut ties now.

How are the Packers (1-3) better off without their best cover cornerback?

"Well, I just think from having things cleaned up," Sherman said. "As I said, from the outside in, the focus that's been put on that, everything that Mike did or didn't do was well-documented every day. And we don't have to deal with that anymore."

GIBBS INCOMMUNICADO: Joe Gibbs couldn't talk to his quarterback via the helmet transmitter Sunday, and he couldn't hear from his assistant coaches in the upstairs booths for two series in the third quarter of the 17-13 loss to the Browns.

"To me, that shouldn't be in the NFL," Gibbs said Monday. "If you're having trouble with communications, fix it."

Gibbs was particularly upset because he was told in the locker room before the game that communications had been a problem in the past for visiting teams.

"It shouldn't be, 'Well, this stadium has trouble with communications.' This is the NFL. Don't throw that on us," Gibbs said.

Gibbs said the equipment worked fine in the first half, but it malfunctioned early in the third quarter.

Gibbs used hand signals to get the plays in to Mark Brunell, but the quarterback had to burn a timeout during one series because of confusion over the call.

BENNETT REINJURES KNEE: Minnesota running back Michael Bennett will miss at least two more games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery Monday to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. Bennett, who hasn't played since spraining the knee in an Aug. 27 exhibition game, reinjured the knee in his first fully padded practice Thursday when he was hit by rookie linebacker Dontarrious Thomas. The injury was expected to push back his season debut until Oct. 24 against Tennessee.

"We could try to rush him back and have him for New Orleans (on Oct. 17)," coach Mike Tice said. "I think we're better served to hold him out until Tennessee."

BILLS' CB OUT: Cornerback Troy Vincent will miss at least two weeks with a right knee injury, further depleting the Buffalo Bills' secondary. Coach Mike Mularkey on Monday said Vincent had arthroscopic surgery earlier in the day, but did not reveal the extent of the player's injury. Vincent was hurt during the opening drive in Buffalo's 31-17 loss to New England on Sunday. While pushing Bethel Johnson out of bounds following a 17-yard reception, Vincent's right leg got twisted under him as the two players tumbled at the sideline.

VANDERJAGT AILING: The NFL's most accurate kicker might now be the league's sorest.

Mike Vanderjagt limped into the locker room Monday with a huge wrap around his strained right hamstring, an injury that could keep him out of Sunday's game against Oakland. Coach Tony Dungy said after practice that an MRI showed the muscle was not torn.

"I have no desire to miss a kickoff, field goal or extra point Sunday," Vanderjagt said. "But I've never had a hamstring problem before."

He was injured after making a 46-yard field goal late in the first half of Sunday's 24-17 victory at Jacksonville.

If Vanderjagt cannot play, the Colts' high-scoring offense would be without its most proficient scorer. Vanderjagt led the AFC last season with 157 points and gained his first Pro Bowl appearance after becoming the fourth kicker in league history to complete a perfect season. He made all 37 field goal attempts, all 46 extra point attempts and broke Gary Anderson's NFL record for consecutive field goals.

9 VIKINGS FINED: Nine Vikings have been fined for their roles in a scuffle with the Chicago Bears on Sept. 26.

In addition to a $5,000 fine levied against Randy Moss, the other fines totaled $23,500.

Wide receiver Nate Burleson, who absorbed the hit from Bears safety Todd Johnson that sparked the shoving matches, was fined $7,500 for removing a Chicago player's helmet.

Six other Vikings — center Cory Withrow, tight end Sean Berton, quarterback Daunte Culpepper, wide receiver Keenan Howry, guard Chris Liwienski and tackle Bryant McKinnie — were fined $2,500 each for "entering the area" of the altercation. Running back Onterrio Smith was fined $1,000.