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Packers hope to rely more on running backs Don Jackson, Knile Davis

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Don Jackson knew right away that his left hand wasn’t broken. But he still doesn’t know if he’ll be able to grip the ball well enough to convince the Green Bay Packers coaches that he’s not a risk to fumble.

The rookie running back, who was promoted from the practice squad just hours before last Thursday’s victory over the Chicago Bears, will attempt to show that in practice this week. The coaching staff didn’t feel good enough about his ability to keep the ball secure after he was injured against the Bears, and therefore, he didn’t play another snap after his two carries for 6 yards.

Jackson almost certainly will have to practice -- and likely play -- with a protective covering on his left hand, which remains swollen despite what he said is not a broken bone.

“They’re just waiting on the swelling [to go down],” Jackson said. “The swelling’s still in there. They gave me this glove so I could calm it down. And it’s already looking better. It’s helping.”

Jackson had a protective wrap with cut-out finger holes on his left hand, which could make ball security an issue.

“Really, that's what practice is for,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said before Wednesday’s practice. “We'll see how today goes and how tomorrow goes. It's important for him to go through team work, especially tomorrow. He needs to go through the half-line drill and the full physical team. He has to go through that, and it will obviously give us direction on how we proceed Sunday."

Either way, the Packers plan to get recently acquired running back Knile Davis more involved. Davis, who arrived in Green Bay last Tuesday after a trade from Kansas City, carried twice for 1 yard against the Bears two days later. He spent the weekend studying with running backs coach Ben Sirmans to further his grasp of the offense.

"Well, Knile Davis, he's part of the game plan,” McCarthy said. “I think the extra time he spent with Ben Sirmans over the weekend, getting ready. So, yeah, I like what he brings to the table. He's a natural football player, someone that's played a lot of football, was successful obviously in college and he's been in the league. I think this is just more of a language and communication gap that you have to fill. He's very bright. He's making progress."

With Jackson banged up and Davis limited in his knowledge of the offense last week, McCarthy relied heavily on the versatility of receivers Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb. On 50 of the 81 offensive plays against the Bears, the Packers had a receiver lined up in the backfield. And, of course, Aaron Rodgers threw the ball a whopping 56 times.

That could change on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, but only if Davis’ knowledge of the playbook has expanded and if Jackson shows he’s not a ball-security risk.

“The trainers, they’re pretty optimistic about it,” Jackson said. “They keep saying, ‘Let’s just keep at it, keep at it, keep at it.’ We’ve still got five days, so we’ve still got some time, and it’s already taken, I think, a dramatic leap from Sunday 'til now. I couldn’t even like have anybody touch it, and now it’s to the point where I can move it a little bit. I have a little bit of grip, but not a lot of strength.”