Safeties stay starters

The same secondary that was charbroiled Sunday at Philadelphia will return intact for this week's home game against Detroit.

Packers coach Mike Sherman hinted Wednesday that one change to the starting lineup was possible, and speculation immediately centered on free safety Mark Roman. Roman allowed three touchdown catches to Eagles running back Brian Westbrook and whiffed on a tackle attempt on Terrell Owens' first touchdown.

On Thursday, however, defensive backs coach Kurt Schottenheimer said Roman will maintain his grip on the starting gig.

Roman's struggling counterpart, Darren Sharper, also will remain in the starting lineup. Figuring a less-than-full speed Sharper is better than any alternatives, the hobbled strong safety will continue to do what he can to help a beleaguered defensive backfield.

"I can still go out there and be effective," Sharper said. "Will I be the guy that is taking picks back 90 yards and stuff like that? I don't know. But I still feel I can make plays."

Sharper tore the posterior-cruciate ligament in his left knee while breaking up a potential touchdown pass Oct. 24 against Dallas. He was given the next week off and then had the bye during the first weekend of November. The rest helped, but two weeks isn't nearly enough time to heal the injury.

Sherman and defensive coordinator Bob Slowik realize Sharper isn't at full speed physically but he still does more good than harm.

"Fortunately, his experience helps us," coach Mike Sherman said. "He's not quite what he's been in the past because of the injury. It is still good to have him. He has a lot of toughness. A lot of guys would probably try to get out of game and he can't wait to get into the game."

Sharper is hopeful, if not optimistic, that his knee will get healthy enough that he can perform up to his standards this season. He's played in four games since suffering the injury. In three of those, against Minnesota, St. Louis and Philadelphia, the Packers' secondary was riddled. In the last two games alone, the Packers have yielded 912 passing yards.

"It's very frustrating, but I think what you try to do is you just try to find other ways that you can maybe contribute or help out," Sharper said.

"You've got to be smarter, play with your head. Hopefully, as the weeks go on, you get healthier and can go out there and do the things you did in the past. But right now it might be a while for that."

As for Roman, it appears his job is safe for the moment, even though the Packers have allowed the most passing yards in team history in consecutive weeks.

One factor weighing in Roman's favor is the concussion suffered by Bhawoh Jue in the Eagles game. Jue would have been Roman's replacement. He practiced Wednesday but did not participate Thursday.

At linebacker, it appears Paris Lenon will get the start ahead of Na'il Diggs at weak-side linebacker. Diggs, who suffered a bruised kidney against the Eagles that kept him in the hospital Sunday and Monday, has not practiced this week.

"It hasn't been decided at this point," Lenon said when asked if he'd be starting.

In other injury news, center Grey Ruegamer was expected to practice Thursday but did not as he recovers from a sprained ankle that knocked him from the Eagles game. He should practice Friday, however.

Diggs, Ruegamer, Jue and backup tackle Kevin Barry (thigh) were the four Packers who did not practice.

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