GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers are losing
playmakers even faster than they're losing games.
Running back Ahman Green is the latest casualty. He was lost for
the season with a ruptured right thigh tendon Sunday, when the
Packers blew a 17-point lead and lost to the NFL's most beleaguered
team, the Minnesota Vikings.
On Monday, coach Mike Sherman glumly announced that Green will
undergo surgery this week and that wide receiver Robert Ferguson
will miss up to a month with a torn lateral cruciate ligament in
his left knee.
That leaves the Packers (1-5) without their top two running
backs and three of their top receivers as they head into a brutal
stretch in which they face Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Atlanta,
Minnesota and Philadelphia.
Brett Favre's arsenal now features third-down back Tony Fisher,
who has rushed for 20 yards on 14 carries this season, and newcomer
ReShard Lee (seven carries for 7 yards) and a receiving corps that
consists of 5-foot-8 kick returner Antonio Chatman (10 catches) and
former practice squad member Jamal Jones (zero catches) behind
Donald Driver, who will surely see more double teams.
"We're all filling each other's shoes right now," Driver said.
Green is the fourth key player to sustain a season-ending
injury, joining Pro Bowl wide receiver Javon Walker (ACL), backup
running back Najeh Davenport (ankle) and rookie receiver/returner
Terrence Murphy (neck).
"Oh, it's a big loss. That's our star running back and they
always say we've got to establish the running game," Driver said.
Coach Mike Sherman maintained his stance that the Packers, who
haven't had a losing season since 1991, won't cash it in now. And
why should they? They play in the league's worst division with
Detroit and Chicago atop the NFC North at 3-3.
Asked if Green's injury was the final straw, however, general
manager Ted Thompson retorted: "I don't think we're in a position
where we think about having our backs broken. This is the NFL.
Things like this happen in the NFL. Obviously, we're very sad that
a player, especially a quality player like Ahman Green, gets hurt
like that. But there's nothing you can do. You can't cry in your
milk. You pick yourself up and try to help your team as much as you
"I think this team is still playing hard. We lost a tough game
and obviously everybody is down in the dumps. But this is a big
man's league and you have to at like big boys and keep plugging
Thompson, who will have two roster spots open when Green goes on
injured reserve, spent the day searching for plug-ins at wide
receiver and running back.
"We'll look at any avenue possible," he said.
Green, who struggled this season after four straight trips to
the Pro Bowl, went down hard on his right knee when he was tackled
by linebacker E.J. Henderson with 8 minutes left and was carted off
the field. He sustained the same injury on Oct. 3 and sat out the
following game. He gained 49 yards on 16 carries against the
For the season, Green had 255 yards on 77 carries for a
career-low 3.3-yard average and no touchdowns -- not the type of
season anybody expected out of the 28-year-old Green in a contract
year who was just two seasons removed from a 20-touchdown
performance in 2003.
Thompson said he didn't know when Green would have his operation
or who would perform it but was told by his medical staff that
Green would likely be able to return to action by next summer.
"It's not an unusually difficult procedure," Thompson said.
"The rehab can be long and difficult but Ahman's a tough guy and
I'm sure he's going to do fine."
Like Davenport, Green isn't under contract for next season. But
Thompson said he'd rather focus on Green's recovery than the
financial ramifications for all involved.
"He's a big part of our team and we're heartbroken that he's
not going to be able to play," Thompson said. "But we want to
make sure he gets back healthy and running like he always has."
In his only other NFL start, on Dec. 8, 2002, Fisher ran for 96
yards on 25 carries against the Vikings.
"He's been a very resilient, reliable back for us," Sherman
said. "He's not Ahman Green, but he is a different type of back
and somebody we're going to have to lean on."
As for Ferguson, he said he hopes to play this weekend even
though he couldn't bend his injured knee Monday.
"I've talked to a lot of people about it and out of the four
[knee] ligaments, if you had to choose one to get injured, that's
definitely the one because it heals faster than the rest,"
Ferguson said. "But the bright side of all this is it's not ripped
off the bone. I still have a little string hanging on, from what I
"So, there's a glimmer of hope."