Green out for season with leg injury

Less than 24 hours after suffering a disappointing loss to their rival Minnesota Vikings, the Green Bay Packers got another dose of bad news today when their Pro Bowl running back Ahman Green was declared out for the rest of the season with a ruptured quadriceps tendon.

Green is expected to undergo surgery soon. Packers Coach Mike Sherman said that he is optimistic that Green will be able to return by the start of next season.

"My understanding is that he'd be ready to go next year," Sherman said. "But I can't validate that."

Two weeks ago today, Green's backup, Najeh Davenport, was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a broken ankle that he sustained Oct. 9 against New Orleans. Tony Fisher and recent street free agent pickup Rashard Lee are the team's only two healthy running backs. Rookie Samkon Gado is the only running back on the team's eight-man practice squad.

"We have to find another back to add to the guys that we have," Sherman said. "Our personnel staff is diligently working at that."

Green first injured his quadriceps tendon Oct. 3 against the Carolina Panthers. He sat out of Green Bay's Week 5 game against New Orleans and used the bye week to allow his right leg to heal and prepare for the Vikings. He rushed for 49 yards on 16 carries against Minnesota until he was tackled by linebacker E.J. Henderson with 8 minutes, 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Green was taken off the field on a cart, and said afterward that he felt fine. But X-rays taken in Green Bay revealed a ruptured tendon, and now the Packers have lost another key contributor on offense.

In addition to Davenport, the Packers lost Pro Bowl wide receiver Javon Walker in the season opener to a knee injury. Promising rookie wide receiver Terrence Murphy was lost for the season in early October after a scary neck injury at Carolina.

Backup receiver Robert Ferguson sustained a severely sprained left ankle Sunday against the Vikings. He probably will miss Green Bay's game this Sunday at Cincinnati.

"You can't replace an Ahman Green at this point in the season. You can't replace a Javon Walker," Sherman said. "You have the cards you're dealt, but you have to reshuffle the deck. Expectations of this team don't change because of injuries."

Green has surpassed 1,000 rushing yards the last five seasons and has 7,432 yards in his career. He finishes this season with 255 yards on 77 carries (3.3-yard avg. per carry).

Green keeps himself in tip-top shape, so his chances of returning by the start of next season appear very good, especially since he becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season. He is nearing the end of a five-year, $17.5 million contract extension ($5 million signing bonus) that he signed prior to 2001 season.

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