Position preview: RB's, FB's

Ahman Green-William Henderson combo nearing the end in Green Bay

Though they have rolled up mileage on their frames, the Green Bay Packers again will feature one of the top backfields in the NFL behind Pro Bowlers Ahman Green and William Henderson. But count on this as the final season that the two will play together.

In fact, the Packers will have some decisions to make regarding their backfield during and after this season. Green, Henderson, Najeh Davenport and Tony Fisher are in the final season of their contracts. Green signed a five-year, $17.5 million contract extension ($5 million signing bonus) prior to 2001 season. Davenport signed a one-year tender ($656,000) as a restricted free agent in April, and Fisher signed a one-year, $660,000 contract extension last December. Henderson is entering the final season of a four-year, $4.25 million contract ($1.15 million signing bonus) that he signed in February of 2002.

All four players are expected to make the Packers' 53-man opening day roster, but all four probably won't be together next season in Green Bay. Green finished with 1,163 yards rushing on 259 carries (4.5 yard avg.) last year, and scored seven touchdowns. Green, an eighth-year pro, has led the Packers in rushing five straight seasons and made a trip to Hawaii last February for the fourth straight time. Henderson, entering his 11th season, was named to his first Pro Bowl after the 2004 season and is expected to win the starting fullback job ahead of veteran Nick Luchey.

The Packers likely will have the same reserves behind Green and Henderson. Najeh Davenport flashed his potential in his only start last season against St. Louis, rushing for a career-high 178 yards. But he also was slowed by hamstring and shoulder injuries that limited him to 11 games last year. Davenport is coming off an off-season shoulder surgery, so he probably will be limited early in training camp.

Tony Fisher, used mainly on third downs, got a number of chances to play as Green's top backup because of injuries to Davenport. He has improved as a blocker, especially picking up blitzes, and has excellent hands to catch passes.

Running back Walter Williams and fullback Vonta Leach represent the best of the longshots who have a chance at making the team. Williams sparkled in his sole opportunity during the regular season last year. He stepped in early in Green Bay's game at Houston for an injured Green and carried the ball six times for 42 yards before he injured his right ankle. He was placed on season-ending injured reserve a week later with a high ankle sprain. Leach was promoted from the team's practice squad to the active roster late last November and played in the team's final six regular season games.

Projected starters: Ahman Green (RB), William Henderson (FB)
Green and Henderson both keep themselves in top, physical shape and again will be very effective.

Projected reserves: Najeh Davenport (RB), Tony Fisher (RB), Nick Luchey (FB)
All three have the ability to start on other NFL teams.

On the bubble: Walter Williams (RB), Chris Robertson (RB), Chaz Williams (RB), Vonta Leach (FB)
Look for Williams, an athletic running back, and Leach, a big, bruising fullback, to make a strong push for a roster spot. Robertson and Williams will have to do something spectacular on the field to catch the eye of coaches in order to make the team.

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