[Packers] Davenport not hamstrung by cold weather
GREEN BAY, Wis. - Running back Najeh Davenport hopes an incident-free practice outdoors Friday bodes well for his anticipated return to the Green Bay Packers lineup Monday night.
Head coach Mike Sherman ran his team through a 90-minute workout at Ray Nitschke Field, where winter hats and gloves came in handy because of temperatures that hovered around the freezing mark with the wind chill.
Though Davenport was limited to what he said afterward was about a dozen reps, the No. 2 halfback came away encouraged that his strained left hamstring held up for the second straight day.
"Actually, I thought it would be worse because it was cold," Davenport said. "But, I went out there today, and I felt better today than I did yesterday inside the Hutson Center. So, who knows? (The cold weather) might have an opposite effect."
Listed as probable on the injury report, Davenport is optimistic he will be cleared to play Monday night against St. Louis at Lambeau Field. The game-time forecast calls for temperatures in the 20s and a chance of snow.
It's possible Davenport, who was deactivated for the 16-13 win at Houston last Sunday, will have to start in place of Ahman Green. The Packers kept the Pro Bowl halfback out of practice Friday for the third straight day.
Green suffered sprained rib cartilage on the Packers' first offensive play in the last game and, after briefly returning, was sidelined the entire second half.
Green is questionable for Monday, meaning he has a 50 percent chance of playing. Offensive coordinator Tom Rossley refrained Friday from speculating about Green's availability for the game, not knowing whether he will participate in the team's final practice of the week Saturday.
Davenport also is no guarantee to play Monday because he has yet to test the hamstring at full speed. Still, Davenport said he feels healthier than he's been since sustaining the injury in the win over Minnesota on Nov. 14.
As it stands, the Packers have only two healthy halfbacks: No. 3 Tony Fisher and recently signed James Jackson, formerly of Cleveland.
Walter Williams, promoted from the practice squad to fill in for Davenport at Houston, was lost in the first half of that game with a high ankle sprain. He, too, is questionable for Monday and hasn't practiced this week.
Although the Packers would like to safeguard themselves should they endure any more setbacks during play Monday, Rossley indicated it would be difficult to activate four halfbacks given the constraints of a 45-man roster on game day.
"I don't know if we can do that," Rossley conceded. "Maybe Mike can work it out. But, we need to have at least three that we feel like can go. We don't need any up that are just part-timers."
Compounding matters on the offensive side is the status of backup fullback Nick Luchey. After being out the preceding two days, Luchey was limited to running in practice Friday without any contact.
He is coping with a separated left shoulder and remains questionable for Monday. Luchey hopes he can test the shoulder in contact drills Saturday. He's been fitted with a shoulder harness, which he would wear if he plays in the game.
"Still day to day," Luchey said. "I don't know if (Sherman's) even going to let me play. But, there's still a good chance that I could."
In the meantime, the Packers have been readying practice-squad rookie fullback Vonta Leach for possibly his NFL debut Monday, giving him reps this week as the backup to William Henderson with the first-string offense.
"I'm preparing right now as I'm going to play," Leach said.
Besides Green and Williams, others on the injury report who remained out of practice were linebacker Torrance Marshall (hamstring), who's probable, and tight end David Martin (knee), who's questionable. Safety Michael Hawthorne, who's probable with a sprained ankle, returned to the field after being out the last two days.