Late injuries sideline defensive backs

INDIANAPOLIS -- A Green Bay secondary that figured to be tested on Sunday, even if at full strength for the game with the Indianapolis Colts, took a considerable hit Saturday when cornerbacks Mike McKenzie and Ahmad Carroll did not accompany the Packers on their road trip here.

Both players were officially ruled "out" for the game by head coach Mike Sherman after they suffered late-week injuries. They remained in Green Bay to continue treatment on the injuries.

McKenzie, tentatively scheduled to make his first start of the regular season, sustained a hamstring injury in either the Thursday or Friday practice. Carroll, the team's first-round draft choice who had logged plenty of playing time as a "nickel" or "dime" defender, has a strained groin.

Their absence means that Michael Hawthorne, who started the Packers' first two games at left cornerback, will continue in that role. It also means Green Bay, which faces Peyton Manning and the explosive Indianapolis offense in what might be the marquee game on the Sunday schedule, will do so shorthanded.

There was some degree of anticipation accompanying the contest since McKenzie -- who sat out the Packers' offseason workout program, all of training camp and the preseason, and the regular-season opener - was primed to make his debut in the starting lineup. The Packers coaches acknowledged during the week that McKenzie had made good progress, would move back to his familiar spot, but likely would not play every snap, because his conditioning is still not back to 100 percent.

McKenzie played in "nickel" situations last week, was tested only once, and broke up the lone pass attempted in his area. Carroll has also played well, with the rookie beginning to demonstrate good confidence in his role as a "sub" defender.

When news originally circulated around the Packers' team hotel here Saturday evening that McKenzie had not made the trip, there was some speculation Green Bay might be poised to trade the sixth-year veteran, but that was not the case.

At least not yet.

The dialogue between the Packers and New Orleans Saints, who have pursued McKenzie in trade talks since training camp, escalated this week. McKenzie indicated that, despite his return to the Packers following the first game of the season, his preference remains to be traded to another club.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.