A Wynn-win situation for Packers?

If rookie can prove he's dependable, he may be long-term answer at running back, but that's a BIG 'if,' says PackerReport.com's Doug Ritchay.

One of the surprises of the first six games this season is how seventh-round draft pick DeShawn Wynn became the Packers' starting running back. A questionable heart at Florida prevented him from becoming the Gators' full-time feature back, and that attitude carried into the preseason, when Wynn missed significant time with an injury.

Many wondered if this apparent lazy football player was worth keeping when the Packers made their final cuts.

The Packers kept Wynn, mainly because of health issues, and he has had good moments. However, he still has not shook away from being questioned about his desire to be a worker on and off the field.

This past week the Packers resumed practice after the bye and Wynn suffered a neck injury. This is all too often a path Packers fans and likely coaches are getting fed up with. Will he ever play through pain or is he softer than a marshmallow?

Coach Mike McCarthy, however, defended Wynn on his latest injury, saying he took too hard a hit in a practice.

"He took a shot at practice that was frankly unnecessary," McCarthy said. "It bothered him in the weight room. It happens. This is not a reflection of anything that's happened in the past."

Still, this followed other episodes this season, including a hand injury and getting dehydrated at Lambeau Field. This kid's from Florida and he's getting dehydrated in Green Bay?

Nonetheless, Wynn is the Packers' starter this week as the team prepares for a Monday night battle with Denver. But his track record, through just six games, makes you wonder what's next.

"He's in the No. 1 slot right now," McCarthy said. "He has an opportunity to take it and do something with it. We'll see what he can do."

The Packers are 32nd in the NFL, averaging 65.7 yards per game, but Wynn can't be solely blamed for that. He's averaging 4.1 yards per carry and has scored four touchdowns.

Plus, he's a seventh-round pick. He's not supposed to be starting, but is because the Packers' backfield has no proven commodity. Still, he knows with Vernand Morency and second-round pick Brandon Jackson waiting in the wings, nothing's guaranteed. When the Packers drafted Jackson, he was the back of the future, if not the present, while Wynn was a player who fell to the seventh round for good reason.

"I can't get complacent, because you really don't know who's going to start at the beginning of the week," Wynn said.

Wynn's position could be on shaky ground. Despite his yards-per-carry average, if you erase his 44-yard scamper against the Bears, he's averaging 2.6 yards per carry.

Wynn has a golden opportunity Monday to make a statement as the Packers' feature back, no questions asked. Denver is ranked 32nd in the NFL, allowing a hefty 176 yards rushing per game. If he can't get going against Denver, what team could he and Packers run well against?

Although Wynn has many detractors – which have showed us why he was such a late pick – he seems to be the Packers' best talent at running back, for now. He's instinctive, unlike Jackson, who seems to be thinking as he runs.

While Morency also is instinctive, he's not as big, meaning he's not a perfect between-the-tackles runner. Wynn has the ability to run inside and outside, even though he's not a burner. Jackson is in the team's long-term plan to be its top running back, but if Wynn gets his act together, starting Monday, who's to say he won't be the eventual full-time replacement to Ahman Green, who left after the 2006 season?

Who's to say? What about Wynn? He's has proven just when he opens our eyes with a solid performance, he frustrates us with a minor injury he can't get through. It'll take some time for Wynn to prove himself dependable, but Monday can be his start.

Doug Ritchay is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at dritchay@sbcglobal.net.

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