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McKenzie mess, fisticuffs, Favre's injury add up to trying times

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - A fight between teammates, incessant trade talk about Mike McKenzie, Brett Favre's bum shoulder, a desolated defense.

These are trying times in Green Bay, where the Packers are trying to avoid their first 1-3 start since 1993, and their first three-game losing streak in Mike Sherman's five seasons as coach.

"Well, it's not as difficult as the guy that's out of work right now from the power plant or the packaging plant," Sherman said Wednesday. "I'm surrounded by great people every day. I come to work every day and I'm surrounded by Brett Favre, Ahman Green, Na'il Diggs, Hannibal Navies, Darren Sharper. Great guys."

He's also encircled by questions about McKenzie, his recalcitrant cornerback who wants out of Green Bay, and about a fight between his top two draft picks.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported the fracas between cornerbacks Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas, which occurred after a defensive backs meeting at Lambeau Field last week, in Tuesday's editions.

Sherman called it a family squabble, nothing more.

"You come home with me tonight. You want to see some fighting going on, you should see my kids," Sherman said. "Five kids in the house. Or take them on vacation in the car. You'll see some fighting. That doesn't mean they don't love each other. It's just the way it is. That's football. That's life.

"I find it very humorous if you don't think that that happens in school yards across this country, in homes, churches, playing basketball," Sherman added. "I remember in a church basketball game getting into a fight with a guy, a teammate. He wouldn't throw me the ball. I wanted to score. But those things happen. That's life. Get over it. Move on. Worry about football."

Neither Carroll, the team's top pick in the draft, nor Thomas, a third-rounder, played in the Packers' loss at Indianapolis on Sunday. Carroll stayed home with a pulled groin and Thomas never lined up from scrimmage despite injuries to McKenzie, Carroll and Michael Hawthorne, who was replaced by rookie free agent Jason Horton when he sustained a concussion during the game.

The Packers said the fight had nothing to do with the decision not to play Thomas nor to leave Carroll in Green Bay.

The two players, who room together on the road, wouldn't reveal what sparked the argument.

"It was family business. We're just going to keep it within the family," Thomas said. "It happens between brothers and sisters. You're not always going to agree but you always love each other the next day."

Said Carroll: "We shook hands. It happened almost two weeks ago. We moved past it."

There's increasing speculation that McKenzie's days in Green Bay are numbered.

He ended his 46-day holdout two weeks ago without rescinding his trade request and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has said McKenzie wants out before the Oct. 19 trade deadline.

Sherman declined to comment about McKenzie at his weekly news conference but on a conference call later Wednesday, he told reporters who cover the New York Giants that there have indeed been trade talks.

"There are talks about it, but I was asked that question by our media today and it would be unfair if I told you something that I didn't tell them," Sherman said. "It's just that I don't discuss those things."

Safety Darren Sharper, who was so excited about McKenzie ending his holdout that he dared teams to attack the secondary, insisted McKenzie's teammates aren't concerned about seeing him dealt.

"He hasn't played much yet, so we're kind of prepared for it," Sharper said.

McKenzie has played nine snaps in the dime defense, all against Chicago, since his return.

"We already know what kind of team we're going to have if he's not here," Sharper said.

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