Davenport shifting into gear

After all the days of having ice strapped to his ailing left hamstring, Najeh Davenport was perfectly acclimated to the cold Green Bay weather Friday.

Davenport participated in practice for the second consecutive day, this time on the Packers' Ray Nitschke outdoor practice field. Despite the rain and cold — a perfect preview of what's expected for Monday night — Davenport survived practice without incident and sounded more hopeful than ever that he would be able to play against the St. Louis Rams.

"Actually, I thought it would be worse because it was cold," said Davenport, who hasn't played in a month. "But I went out there today and I felt better today than I did yesterday inside the Hutson Center."

An able-bodied Davenport would be a huge help for a Packers team that is reeling in the backfield. Starting running back Ahman Green sat out a third consecutive practice due to sprained rib cartilage. If he is unable to practice Saturday, the final practice of the week, he almost certainly would not play Monday night.

If Green is sidelined, Davenport likely would get the start, assuming his hamstring doesn't suffer a setback. Davenport said he's only in "third gear" and he has two more gears to go before being full speed. Third gear is good enough, he added.

Green is listed as questionable (50 percent chance he will play) for Monday's game while Davenport is probable (75 percent chance he will play).

The only other healthy running backs are third-stringer Tony Fisher and the newly acquired James Jackson. The Packers would prefer to use Fisher in his customary third-down role, while Jackson only has a rudimentary knowledge of Green Bay's offensive system.

Walter Williams, who was promoted from the practice squad last week when it became clear Davenport's hamstring wasn't ready, hasn't practiced all week due to a high-ankle sprain. He most likely will not play.

Shifting over to fullback, Nick Luchey hopes he can play with his dislocated shoulder. He practiced Friday but did not take part in any contact drills. Surgery seemed a possibility earlier in the week.

"Still day to day," Luchey said. "I don't know if (coach Mike Sherman is) even going to let me play. But there's still a good chance that I could."

If Luchey is held out, practice-squad player Vonta Leach expects to be promoted to be William Henderson's backup.


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