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Packers give up on DT Washington, release draft bust

When he reported to a post-draft minicamp last month and was told by Green Bay first-year head coach Mike McCarthy that he couldn't practice because his conditioning was so poor, even third-year defensive tackle Donnell Washington acknowledged his tenure with the Packers was a "do or die" proposition.

Washington apparently didn't do what the Packers' coaching staff expected of him and so, despite the team's investment in the former Clemson standout, his stint in Green Bay has been terminated. The second Packers coach to be frustrated by Washington's absence of motivation and by recurring weight problems, McCarthy on Friday released the talented but top-heavy interior defender.

The final count on his Green Bay career: The Packers used a third-round choice in the 2004 draft to grab Washington and paid him $1.245 million in bonuses and base salaries. And for that, they got absolutely nothing, as Washington never appeared in a single Packers regular-season game.

Washington will be subject to the league waiver system and, given the historic difficulty around the NFL in filling out a defensive tackle depth chart and the fact he is due only minimum base salaries for the next two years, there is a possibility that he could generate some interest.

But for Washington to be effective and for him to salvage a once-promising career, any team that takes him on is going to have to find a way to light a fire under him and to get his weight to a manageable level. Despite their repeated efforts, the Packers could do neither.

So ardently did Green Bay covet Washington that it traded third- and fourth-round choices in the 2004 draft to move up 14 spots to select him. He missed his rookie season with a foot injury, however, and then did little in training camp last summer to justify his draft status. Washington was inactive for all 16 games in 2005, never even dressing for a single contest.

He reported to mincamp last month at 345 pounds, at least 10 pounds more than the target the Green Bay staff had given him, and McCarthy forbade him from practicing. His weight was better at the team's most recent minicamp, and Washington participated in that three-day session and in the subsequent organized team activities (OTAs) the past couple weeks.

But apparently, Washington did not impress the Packers coaches and could not convince them he should compete for a roster spot. At 6-feet-5½, Washington has a prototype frame for a defensive tackle and his strength is terrific, with a career-best bench press of nearly 500 pounds. His time in the 40, slightly more than five seconds, is also impressive.

Some team will have to be sold on those raw physical skills to give Washington a second chance to make a good first impression.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.