Backfield in motion

Veteran fullback William Henderson has lost the starting job he's held for more than a decade, and running back Ahman Green is questionable with two bum hamstrings. Also, Daryn Colledge and Tony Moll will start at guard.

The Green Bay Packers' longtime starting backfield of Ahman Green and William Henderson won't be in the starting lineup on Monday night in Philadelphia.

They definitely won't start together. They might not start separately, either.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy made it official on Saturday: Newcomer Brandon Miree has beaten out Henderson and will start at fullback at Philadelphia.

Meantime, Green has been downgraded to questionable for the game, meaning there's a 50-50 chance he'll be available.

Green entered last week's game at Detroit with a sore right hamstring. Now, the left hamstring is sore. So sore, in fact, that he was held out of Saturday's practice.

"I'm hopeful he's going to play, just based on the information that we have," McCarthy said. "But it's part of the game. Just get ‘Mo' and Noah ready."

Mo — Vernand Morency — was going to play a bigger role in the offense, McCarthy said, but might have to by necessity now. Morency was acquired from Houston in the Sept. 13 Samkon Gado trade.

"He's very comfortable with the terminology now," McCarthy said of Morency. "I thought he had an excellent week of practice."

Noah Herron will man the third-down role if Morency starts.

Meantime, McCarthy said benching Henderson was an extremely difficult decision.

"On a personal level, that's something that's not easy because we do have a prior relationship," said McCarthy, the Packers' quarterbacks coach in 1999. "But, as you move forward, you've got to do what's in the best interests of the Green Bay Packers. He understands that, and that's the direction we're going."

Henderson, a third-round draft pick in 1995 who has been the starter since 1996, called the demotion a "humbling" experience. Now that he's lost the starting job, there's a chance he won't be on the 45-player game-day roster on Monday. He's only missed two of 178 games in his career.

"I've got to take it as a challenge in some way, shape or form to get myself prepared to compete in whatever the situation may be," Henderson said.

Henderson struggled terribly against Detroit. In Green Bay's first four offensive series, Henderson was the lead blocker on six rushes that netted just seven yards.

The switch, however, had less to do with Henderson's lack of production as it did with Miree's familiarity with the zone-blocking scheme — he spent his first two NFL seasons with Denver, which runs the zone scheme better than any team in the NFL. Coming off a preseason knee injury that resulted in arthroscopic surgery that kept him out of the Week 1 game against Chicago didn't help Henderson's cause, either.

"I wouldn't say he's regressed," McCarthy said. "I think it's just a matter of he had a significant knee injury, and he came back very quickly from it. So I think it's more of a coming off an injury than anything."

Henderson said he came back from the surgery too quickly, but wouldn't use the injury as an excuse.

"I'm not one to use excuses for my performance," the 2004 Pro Bowler said. "But it's one of those things. I guess I haven't done enough, and I'm going to continue to work harder to get back to the form that I had before."

Henderson, as you'd expect, handled the news with class.

"I wish him well," Henderson said, "because the one thing I want to do whenever I'm done playing football with this organization is that I want to leave it in the greater hands of somebody capable of handling the responsibilities."

Staying on offense, McCarthy said Daryn Colledge and Tony Moll will be the starting guard combination for the third straight week. Jason Spitz, who started at left guard in Week 1, missed the last two games with a deep thigh bruise and didn't show enough at practice this week to reclaim the job.

Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett was upgraded from doubtful (25 percent chance of playing) to questionable (50 percent chance) after practicing for the second day in a row despite a badly sprained right ankle.

"He was sore (on Friday). It wasn't as good as we thought it would be," McCarthy said.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.


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