Injury update: Jackson's future unclear

The dislocated left knee cap suffered by Grady Jackson on the third play from scrimmage Monday night at Carolina will leave a gaping hole in the Packers' emerging defense.

Just how long that hole will remain is a mystery.

Due to continued swelling in his left knee, Packers coach Mike Sherman on Tuesday said doctors were unable to determine how long the 340-pound, run-stuffing nose tackle will remain out of action.

"The knee swelled up today. We still have not determined the length of time that he'll be unavailable," Sherman said. "As of right now, no surgery has been discussed."

Sherman said a magnetic-resonance-imaging exam confirmed Monday night's diagnosis of a dislocation.

Jackson made a night-and-day difference in the Packers' defense last season. Before being signed at midseason, the Packers were allowing 127 yards per game on the ground. With Jackson, the Packers allowed 95 yards per game on the ground. That yardage difference helped the Packers allow nearly 10 fewer points per game — 24.1 to 14.3 — over the second half of the season compared to the first half.

Jackson suffered the injury when his left leg got caught and he fell backward. On the play before the injury, Jackson made his presence felt by sniffing out a trick play in which Carolina receiver Steve Smith got the ball on an end-around and attempted a pass. Just as Smith was ready to unload the ball to an open receiver, Jackson unloaded on Smith.

In Jackson's place Monday, second-year player James Lee was in the lineup on running downs while Cullen Jenkins came in during pass-rushing situations.

Sherman said Tuesday he hopes to get second-year defensive lineman Kenny Peterson back for Sunday's home opener against the Bears. Defensive tackle Larry Smith, waived in the final cutdown after missing the last couple weeks of training camp with a thigh injury, could be brought back.

"Certainly Larry may be a consideration at some point," Sherman said. "We hope to get Kenny Peterson back. Our numbers, I kept nine defensive linemen so our numbers are not down there. I thought James Lee played well, Cullen Jenkins played well so it's not like we're lacking in people and bodies to do the job. We just don't have a player of the magnitude of Grady Jackson."

Last season, with Gilbert Brown injured, the Packers were desperate for defensive line help. This season, with the emergence of Peterson, Lee and Jenkins, Sherman isn't facing dire straits. On Monday, the Packers allowed a mere 38 yards on the ground against a team featuring 1,400-yard rusher Stephen Davis.

"We're in better shape this year to handle a loss of a Grady Jackson than we were last year because we have more depth," Sherman said.

The other prominent injury Monday was to running back/kickoff returner Najeh Davenport. Davenport pulled a hamstring while returning a kickoff in the second quarter. Sherman called Davenport's status day-to-day.

Davenport, while a reserve, plays a vital role in the offense and would have led the league in kickoff returns had he had enough runbacks last season. With Davenport sidelined, Green rushed the ball 33 times and caught two passes — too much work for a player of his importance.

"We'd like to keep his numbers to about 28 plays. He probably had a few more than normal," Sherman said of Green. "But (Tony) Fisher carried the ball (nine times for 32 yards). We ran the ball more than we normally do, too."

If Davenport can't play Sunday, rookie first-round pick Ahmad Carroll will return kickoffs.

Speaking of Carroll, Sherman gave the rookie and veteran Michael Hawthorne solid reviews. Both players batted down a pair of passes and each had a chance to make an interception. Carroll, however, made a couple mistakes that led to big gains, most notably on Carolina's fourth-quarter touchdown.

"I thought they did well. We had the one blown coverage where they stack released two receivers and Carroll jumped the wrong route, didn't stay with his guy. But other than that, they both made plays on the ball. I think they both played their position well."

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