By Todd McMahon
News-Chronicle
Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Sherman plans to keep the St. Louis Rams guessing about whether Pro Bowl halfback Ahman Green will play Monday night.

Green didn't practice the entire week because of sprained rib cartilage that knocked him out early in the last game. Yet, the Packers are leaving Green listed as questionable on the injury report, meaning he has a 50 percent chance of playing.

Sherman said after Saturday's practice that Green's status is "day to day" and indicated a final determination will be made on the day of the game at Lambeau Field.

"I think there's always that opportunity that if he takes a direct shot (to the ribs area), it could be tough on him," Sherman said. "But, he's a pretty tough guy, and he can handle quite a few things."

However, Sherman and the team's medical staff aren't sure to what extent Green would be able to withstand a hit because he was limited to working with only training bags off to the side Saturday.

If Green is cleared to play Monday, he likely will have to wear a flak jacket for protection. Sherman, though, hinted that the team may play it safe and keep Green out, given that it will have a short turnaround before playing another key intraconference game Dec. 5 at NFC leader Philadelphia.

When asked if Green is determined to play Monday, Sherman responded, "He's not going to do anything that would jeopardize the team, in relationship to his availability. ... He's very aware that if he suits up, he's going to play."

Green wasn't available to speak to reporters after practice.

If Green is held out Monday, Sherman acknowledged that Najeh Davenport, himself ailing, would be the first choice to start.

"More than likely, that would be the case," Sherman said. "He's been our (top) backup. If he's ready to roll, then, more than likely, he would be the starter."

Davenport declared himself ready to play Monday after practicing three straight days without doing further harm to his strained left hamstring. The injury kept Davenport out of the Packers' win at Houston last Sunday.

The Packers have listed Davenport on the injury report as probable for Monday's game. Saying he's at "80, 85 percent" healthy, Davenport feels he's capable of assuming a heavy workload as possibly the team's featured back.

"How many carries do I want? Twenty-five to 30," Davenport said. "How many will I be good for? Twenty-five to 30. How many will I get? That's something that's not up to me."

Davenport has never started a game in his first two-plus years in the league. He did have a career-long run of 76 yards for a touchdown last season in the Packers' 34-24 loss at St. Louis, which held Green to a season-low 35 yards in 20 carries.

The Packers have been careful this week not to let Davenport run at full speed with the sore hamstring. He missed three games earlier this season with a strained right hamstring, which has yet to completely heal.

"I've got it to fourth gear. I don't want to run it into fifth gear. I don't want to put it at top, top speed yet because of the situation," Davenport said. "I'm going to leave that to a game-time situation. If we need it, I'll use it. But, right now, I'm comfortable in fourth gear."

It's possible the Packers will go into the game Monday with Davenport, Tony Fisher and recently signed James Jackson as their available halfbacks.

They downgraded Walter Williams from questionable to out because of a high ankle sprain. Williams was promoted from the practice squad last weekend to fill in for Davenport against Houston but suffered the injury in the second quarter.

Jackson, a free agent formerly with Cleveland, was added Tuesday. Sherman gave Jackson high marks for learning the playbook in a short time and feels comfortable putting the fourth-year veteran on the field right away.

"I don't think he's made a mental mistake all week," Sherman said.

The Packers also are dealing with injury concerns at fullback.

Backup Nick Luchey didn't practice the entire week and remains questionable for Monday with a separated left shoulder, sustained in the last game.

Luchey tested the shoulder with a blocking sled Saturday, saying his status is "day to day." He will have to wear a shoulder harness if he's cleared to play.

"We want to be smart with this thing," Luchey said. "It's going to come down to (Sherman's) decision. It's definitely going to be a game-time decision."

The Packers worked practice-squad fullback Vonta Leach in Luchey's place during practice throughout the week and could promote the undrafted rookie to be William Henderson's understudy Monday.

MORE INJURY NEWS
Besides Williams, the Packers downgraded tight end David Martin from questionable to out for Monday because of a strained patella tendon in his left knee.

Wide receiver Robert Ferguson was added to the injury report as probable. He aggravated a groin injury toward the end of practice Friday and was kept out of most drills Saturday.

"It's the same thing he's had for quite a while," Sherman said. "There's concern, but not that he won't be available (for the game). He's always available."

Sherman said he will decide after the team's walk-through today whether Darren Sharper will regain his starting spot at strong safety.

Sharper practiced the last three days. He's probable for Monday's game with a partially torn posterior-cruciate ligament in his left knee. The injury kept him out of the Oct. 31 game at Washington and has limited him the past two contests to playing as an extra defensive back in the dime package on passing downs.

"I don't know if you can say (he's running at) full speed, but he's as close as he's been," Sherman said.

Bhawoh Jue has started the last three games at Sharper's spot.

MARSHALL GOES ON IR
Linebacker Torrance Marshall's season ended prematurely when the team placed him on injured reserve Saturday because of a recurring hamstring injury.

A magnetic-resonance-imaging exam performed Friday revealed tearing in Marshall's left hamstring. He first encountered problems the latter part of training camp in August and then aggravated the injury a third time while on the punt-coverage unit during the last game.

Sherman said Marshall's timetable for recovery was placed at a minimum four to six weeks, thus prompting the decision to put him on the season-ending IR list.

"With the numbers game and with it being so late in the season, I kind of had a feeling it was going to happen," Marshall said. "It's frustrating, but that's the way the ball bounces sometimes. I'm just going to rehab and try to get myself better."

Marshall, in his fourth year with the team, will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Linebacker Nick Rogers was re-signed to take Marshall's spot on the roster. He had been waived by the team for the second time in the past six weeks on Tuesday, when Jackson was signed.