From The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Green Bay - If you ask his fellow backfield mates, Ahman Green is going to play Monday night against the St. Louis Rams.
Green Bay Packers coach Mike Sherman wouldn’t go that far after Saturday’s practice at the Don Hutson Center and maintained that he wouldn’t know until the day of the game whether his star running back would be able to play.
As a result, Sherman said he was leaning toward starting backup Najeh Davenport, who practiced for a third consecutive day without any setback to his tender left hamstring. Davenport, who has carried the ball just six times in the last three games, would be making his first career start.
Green, who suffered sprained rib cartilage last week against Houston, took part in drills aimed at testing his readiness for the game Monday. It was the first time this week that he had done anything in practice and from most accounts appeared to come out of it pretty well.
“He looked all right,” running back Tony Fisher said. “He was doing some of the stuff we were doing, so he looked all right to me. He said he was doing all right. He should be all right.”
Said running backs coach Johnny Roland, “He’s better. He did just enough to show he can take a bang and get used to the flak jacket. He keeps telling me he’s all right, but we’ll wait and see. It’s probably a game-day decision.”
Green, who would not answer any questions, did not take part in any of the 11-on-11 drills in the non-pads workout, but Sherman said he performed contact drills such as hitting the tackling bag to test his pain threshold and prepare him for live tackling Monday night.
He will not take part in any full-contact drills before the game, so determining his status will be a matter of estimating how well he can move his upper body without discomfort. If he plays, he will wear the flak jacket to protect his ribs, but he will not receive an injection to numb the affected area.
The tests the medical staff put him through over the next 24 hours or so probably will determine whether he plays. Sherman wants to make sure the pain in Green’s rib area doesn’t restrict him from moving the way he normally does.
“I think there’s always that opportunity that if he takes a direct shot it could be tough on him,” Sherman said. “But he’s a pretty tough guy and he can handle quite a few things.”
Regardless of whether Green is in uniform, Davenport is going to get a good portion of the carries. The third-year back estimated that he is at least as healthy as he was when he made his return from a right hamstring injury in the Detroit game Oct. 17. He carried 10 times for 62 yards and a touchdown in that contest.
Roland said he had no doubt Davenport could handle a heavy load against the Rams despite the fact he hasn’t carried the ball since the first series of the Minnesota game Nov. 14.
“He’s done it over and over again,” Roland said of carrying the ball. “It’s not a big problem in terms of being the guy.”
Fullback Nick Luchey appears ready to go after testing his dislocated left shoulder during a full-pads session with the tackling bag and blocking sled. Luchey said he had full range of motion and didn’t feel the harness he will be required to wear will hinder him in his blocking.
“It helps me a lot,” he said. “It definitely keeps me stable. With hitting the sled today, it definitely felt stable and the more I hit it, the more confidence I had. I got a little fatigued, but as far as playing. . . . I think I can. If it was up to me, I would say I could go.”
More than likely the Packers will keep recently signed running back James Jackson active for the game for precautionary reasons. If any of the backs were unable to play or got hurt during the game, Jackson could fill in.
Roland said Jackson knew a good portion of the plays and the coaches would whittle down the list to those he knows best