Injuries piling up on winless Packers
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Mike Sherman took solace in the Green Bay Packers' fourth-quarter comeback that fell just short at Carolina. He sees it as a sign that nobody on his team is quitting despite an NFL-worst 0-4 record and a rash of injuries that will make it harder to fix things.
"I watched the tape when I came back last night and that was not an indication in the game at all," Sherman said Tuesday, a day after the Packers' 32-29 loss to the Panthers in which six players, including four starters, sustained significant injuries.
"I don't anticipate anybody quitting on the team, no."
The Packers are 0-4 for the first time since 1988, when Lindy Infante's first team opened 0-5 on its way to a 4-12 season.
Sherman spent Tuesday trying to figure out how he's going to clean up the Packers' mistake-prone units with backups and maybe a waiver-wire pickup.
"It doesn't make it any easier, that's for sure. But we're hopeful that we can," he said.
Running back Ahman Green sprained his right knee, center Mike Flanagan aggravated a strained abdominal muscle, left tackle Chad Clifton sprained his left ankle, linebacker Na'il Diggs sprained his right medial collateral ligament; wide receiver/kick returner Terrence Murphy injured his neck and safety Earl Little pulled a hamstring. None of them returned to the game Monday night.
The Packers waived reserve tight end Ben Steele on Tuesday because they need the roster spot either for another offensive lineman or a wide receiver, and because they're hopeful Pro Bowl tight end Bubba Franks (knee) will return from a two-week absence Sunday against New Orleans.
Murphy remained hospitalized in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday, where director of player development Turner Gill was staying with him. They were expected to fly back to Green Bay on Wednesday, Sherman said.
Murphy was injured on Thomas Davis' helmet-to-helmet hit in the second quarter. He lay motionless on the field for several minutes and was taken off on a stretcher.
Murphy, a rookie from Texas A&M, temporarily lost feeling in his extremities, teammate Antonio Chatman said. But Murphy had movement in his limbs by the time he was taken from the stadium.
"He's doing better in the hospital," Sherman said Tuesday evening.
Sherman said he had no timetable for Murphy's possible return nor did he have an update on Green "other than the fact that he took a hit on his quad and we're scanning it right now as I speak."
Clifton has a chance to play Sunday if the swelling subsides in his ankle, although he's not expected to practice much this week, Sherman said.
Flanagan is another story.
"Flanagan has what they call a muscle hernia," Sherman said. "Probably won't have a chance to play this weekend. He's seeing a doctor in Philadelphia today."
Franks, who played in all 86 games during his career before missing the last two, is getting better but Sherman won't know until later this week if he's ready to return.
Asked what was a more pressing need, a wide receiver or an offensive lineman, Sherman said: "From a numbers standpoint, I think they're both issues. But it depends on who is able to come back from their injury sooner and certainly only having three wideouts is an issue."
The Packers have lost their last three games by a total of six points, and in each one they have lamented a rash of mistakes that turned the tide.
The only other team to recover from an 0-4 start to make the playoffs in its current configuration was the 1990 San Diego Chargers, although the Packers could very well join them as the NFC North has Chicago and Detroit on top at 1-2 and Minnesota at 1-3.
"Fortunately, it's not out of reach," Sherman said. "But at the same time we just have to win the next ballgame."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press