Levens breaks hand, out 4 to 6 weeks

CLEVELAND – Is Dorsey Levens back? Yes and no. Levens flashed signs of his vintage form Saturday night in Green Bay's exhibition loss to the Cleveland Browns, but was hit by another dose of bad luck on his very first carry. Early in the second quarter Levens ran for seven yards but suffered a broken left hand when he was tackled.

The oft-injured back, who missed the second half of last season with a knee injury, didn't think much of the pain in his hand and continued to play. Before he donned a baseball cap and watched the rest of the game from the sideline, Levens made a couple of key plays in the Packers first scoring drive of the game. On third and 16, Levens caught a screen pass from Brett Favre and turned it into a 16-yard gain for a first down by an inch. On the next play, he cut back to the right for a 20-yard gain to the Packers' 49. A few plays later, he caught a nine-yard pass to advance the Packers to the Browns' 31.

The Packers went on to score a field goal and most of the first unit took the rest of the game off. But X-rays showed that Levens had broken a metacarpal, one of five long bones of his left hand, and will be out at least until the season opener. Levens, who had his hand heavily taped in the locker room afterward, doesn't see himself sitting idle for too long.

"Why not? I've played through everything else."

Levens finished the game with 29 yards on five carries for an average of 5.8 yards per carry. He also caught two passes for 25 yards. It was the first time Levens played in a game situation since Oct. 29 of last year against Miami when he injured his left knee, which eventually required surgery.

Since he was named to the Pro Bowl in 1997, Levens has suffered injuries to both knees and ankles, which have substantially limited his playing time. "I'm feeling more comfortable. It's just rust," Levens said. "I haven't been in a live situation in a long time. It's going to take some time to knock it off and get comfortable again."

Second-year running back Rondell Mealey started at tailback in the second half. He finished with 27 yards on 11 carries (2.5 yards per carry). Mealey, in a battle with De'Mond Parker and Herbert "Whisper" Goodman for the third running back spot, made a big mistake when he fumbled the ball trying to dive over the goal line with 7:18 left in the fourth quarter. A touchdown and extra point would have tied the game, but a couple of Cleveland defenders jarred the ball loose from Mealey, who lunged toward the goal line but was not able to get airborne.

Mealey had knee surgery last August after only playing in one preseason game as a rookie.

"I don't think it was necessarily careless," Sherman said. "I think he was trying to get the yard. He did get great push. I think he was trying to umph it over and he lost it. ... He's not a fumbler per see but it is something that concerns me."

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