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Listen carefully - Goodman makes a statement

Whisper made himself heard ... Nothing quiet about Whisper's play ... Whisper's performance is loud and clear... <p> No account of the Packers' 38-31 win in Cleveland Friday night is complete without a pun about the conspicuous performance of the team's quietest player -- running back Herbert "Whisper" Goodman. <p>

Goodman compiled 136 all-purpose yards as he asserted himself into the hotly contested race for the remaining running back slot. Whisper's totals included 80 yards rushing on 19 carries, four catches for 56 yards plus TDs on the ground and through the air.

The numbers added up to a game ball for Goodman, along with an edge on the competition for the No. 3 spot behind Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport.

"Whisper wasn't whispering tonight," Coach Mike Sherman said after the game. "He was making a lot of noise out there. And I don't normally give a game ball in the preseason, but if anyone deserved one, (Goodman) did. I did give him one today."

Goodman got an opportunity for more playing time when fullback-turned-halfback Davenport suffered a minor injury. Goodman made the most of his chance, capping a stand-out perofmrance with a fourth-quarter touchdown that all but sealed the Packer win. His second TD of the night, Goodman got into the end zone this time on a shovel pass from Akili Smith which he took through several defenders 13 yards for the score.

Goodman has made a splash with the Pack in preseason before, most notably after he signed as an undrafted free agent out of tiny Graceland (NAIA Div. II) in 2000. He distinguished himself as the only rookie free agent to make the club and led the team in rushing in the preseason. Goodman had a similar opportunity to show his wares in 2000 when Dorsey Levens and Ahman Green were both injured. He answered then by rushing for 91 yards on 13 carries in Monday night battle at Miami, including a 56-yard scoring burst up the left sideline, then followed with an 88-yard effort five days later against Cleveland.

Goodman served two separate stints with the Packers as a rookie. After that, Goodman stayed put -- either on practice squad or active roster -- in Green Bay through the 2002 preseason when he had two strong exhibition game performances before being waived (injured) in the final roster reduction.

In 2002 he tore it up with the NFLEL's Scottish Claymores as the league's leading rusher, then Goodman eventually re-signed with Green Bay July 29.

Now the running back can't be concerned about whether he is this year's Mr. August or if he's finally found a home in Green Bay's backfield.

"I'm basically just competing," Goodman said. "Injuries are part of the game. It's unfortunate Najeh (Davenport) went down (with a strained calf), but when your number gets called, you've got to be ready for it."

Goodman will turn 26 on Aug. 31.

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