RBs are walking, not running

Packers coach Mike Sherman has plenty to be thankful for. After Wednesday's practice, Sherman has something else for which to give thanks while dining on his Thanksgiving bird Thursday: His running backs were at practice, not the trainer's room.

Injured running backs Ahman Green, Najeh Davenport, Nick Luchey and Walter Williams did not practice Wednesday. But they were there. Standing. Walking.

Winding our way down the depth chart:

— Starter Green, listed as questionable on the preliminary injury report, actually took some reps during the pre-practice walkthrough portion of Wednesday's workout. With sprained rib cartilage, practically every movement Green makes causes discomfort. The Packers hope the pain will subside as the week progresses, and having an extra day before the Monday night home game against St. Louis certainly won't hurt.

Sherman says Green's availability will depend almost entirely on how much pain Green can take. Obviously, being a running back, Green's ribs will take a pounding practically every time he touches the ball.

"Pain is certainly an issue," Sherman said. "The ability to torque your body, twist and turn as he does so violently when he carries the ball. So I would say pain would be the No. 1 (thing). I don't think structurally there's anything. When you hurt the cartilage in the rib, it's just pain. But that pain can be limiting, too, to your movement and ability to do certain things."

Green will be fitted with a flak jacket, which will provide some protection. A pain-killing injection, however, is out of the question.

"Particularly because it's near the lungs, it's a fairly dangerous area to be messing around with stuff like that," Sherman said. "And it's hard to locate rib pain."

— Backup Davenport, listed as probable on the preliminary injury report, was held out of Wednesday's practice again as the training staff elected to give the big halfback an extra day to rest his ailing hamstring. Davenport said he was ready to practice and was a bit surprised to be a last-minute scratch.

"I'm pretty sure that I'm ready to play," said Davenport, who joined Green in the walkthrough session. "At the end of it, it's Coach Sherman's decision."

With the uncertainty at the position, Packers running backs coach Johnny Roland put a little heat on the oft-injured Davenport — who hasn't played since Oct. 24 — to get on the field.

"I told him, ‘You're too young to know this, but in World War II they said it was time for all good men to come to the aid of their country,' " Roland said. "I told him it's time for him to come to the aid of this football team."

— Third-down back Fisher wants to make a correction. Even though Sherman and quarterback Brett Favre have said Fisher played through a stinger Sunday night at Houston, Fisher says no such thing happened and he's perfectly healthy.

"I was banged up, but I didn't have any stingers or anything," Fisher said. "My mom was like, ‘What's wrong with your neck?' and I'm like, ‘There's nothing wrong with my neck.' I don't know why everybody keeps saying something is wrong with my neck."

Fisher is not listed on the injury report.

— Fourth-string running back Williams, who suffered a high-ankle sprain on Sunday, did not participate but did walk along the sideline. High-ankle sprains historically sideline players for at least a couple weeks, so it would seem highly unlikely he will play Monday. He's listed as questionable.

— Newly signed running back James Jackson split the halfback reps with Fisher at practice and impressed Sherman with how quickly he adapted to the new terminology.

Jackson, Cleveland's former starter, was released last week and signed Tuesday with Green Bay. Sherman likes Jackson's explosiveness and intelligence. More than that, though, he likes Jackson's hunger.

"I like the fact that he has three kids and he likes to feed them. I look at that, that's important to me. But that means it's important to him. And so that played a part in it," Sherman said. "It seems like he's hungry for a job, he did a good job in our walk through. Everybody was kind of going through it like we normally do and he was exploding and wanting to show us what he had, even though he didn't have to do it, he did it, so that was impressive."

Jackson says he's excited to get an opportunity in Green Bay.

"Here it's smash-mouth football," Jackson said. "In Cleveland, it was a lot of finesse stuff, but here I think it's a privilege. I got a chance to run behind these guys so I'll see what happens on Monday night if I have a chance to get in the game."

— Backup fullback Nick Luchey, who dislocated his left shoulder Sunday, may be able to play if he wears a harness. Surgery had been considered, Sherman said, and even the possibility Luchey could play was big news to the coach. Blocking is the key role as a fullback, and that means his shoulder would take a beating. Luchey, however, has played some halfback, and could help there in a pinch. He's listed as questionable.


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