Safety likely to miss playoff game

Barring a miraculous recovery of his injured knee, Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper will not play in Green Bay's NFC Wild Card playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons Saturday night at Lambeau Field. Sharper was unable to practice with the team this week and remained questionable on the injury report for the game.<p>

The Packers said that Sharper will test his right knee, which he sprained on Dec. 22 against Buffalo, prior to the playoff game Saturday night. But Sharper has been able to do nothing more than straight-line running and some rehab of his knee. "I'll have to prove to them that I can go out and do the things necessary to play," Sharper said. "If the injury's not completely healed, you're risking not just me but I'm a detriment to the team if I'm not at 100 percent or even 90 percent to go out there."

If Sharper is unable to play, third-year pro Matt Bowen will start in his place. Bowen started last Sunday against the New York Jets and was second on the team with seven tackles.

Sharper said Thursday that he is "better than 50 percent" but declined to say how much better.

Sharper was named to his second Pro Bowl this season. He tied for second in the NFC in interceptions with seven (San Francisco's Tony Parrish also had seven). Tampa Bay's Brian Kelly had eight. Sharper paid the price on his final interception, returning it from deep in the end zone before he was hit squarely on his knee by the Bills' Larry Centers during his 19-yard runback, which was enough to sprain the medial collateral ligament.

Sharper was fourth on the team in tackles with 80 and had 10 passes defensed.


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