AP Story: Packers Drop Preseason Home Opener To Carolina, 20-7


Super-sized nose tackle Gilbert Brown helped stuff Stephen Davis four times on a goal-line stand Saturday night in his first test to see if he'll be able to play with a ruptured right biceps.

Brown played the first quarter of Green Bay's 20-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Carolina (3-0) got outstanding performances from backups Chris Weinke and Walter Young, who hooked up five times for 88 yards, including an 11-yard go-ahead touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The Packers (2-2) lost two Pro Bowl performers in safety Darren Sharper (groin) and right guard Marco Rivera (sprained left knee) and Carolina lost defensive end Michael Rucker (sprained left ankle) and free safety Deon Grant (left quadriceps strain).

Brown wants to play through his injury rather than undergo season-ending surgery even though he's risking permanent loss of strength in the arm.

Brown, a 10-year veteran and fan favorite, got a rousing ovation from the record crowd of 69,831 at the renovated Lambeau Field when he dumped Davis for a 1-yard loss on Carolina's first possession, then did his trademark ``gravedigger'' celebration.

Brown made a dramatic return to practice Wednesday after persuading coach Mike Sherman to let him attempt a comeback.

Sherman was eager to see how Brown held up in a game, but Brown said he wasn't sure if he'd convinced himself or his coach of his ability to withstand the rigors of one of the NFL's toughest positions.

"The arm feels all right. It's a little early to tell, though,'' Brown said. "We'll have to wait until tomorrow and see how it feels.''

Brown didn't take a cortisone shot or wear a brace because he wanted to be able to fully test the muscle, which he ruptured on a freak play two weeks ago at Atlanta.

Ahman Green rushed 12 times for 77 yards, his last carry a 45-yard scamper for a touchdown that put Green Bay ahead 7-3 in the third quarter.

The defenses dominated the first half, which ended in a scoreless tie after Green Bay fullback William Henderson's holding penalty negated Ryan Longwell's 47-yard field goal with 28 seconds left.

Henderson also fumbled away the ball on the Packers' first play from scrimmage.

After playing three road games in 11 days, the Packers were eager to play at home. But their offense was out of sync from the start.

Brett Favre threw two interceptions and Green Bay's seven first-half possessions ended in four punts and three turnovers.

Carolina's starters didn't fair much better. After Davis failed to punch the ball in from the 1, the Panthers had four punts and an interception by Rodney Peete the rest of the half.

Favre finished 18-of-29 for 116 yards and two interceptions. Peete was 6-of-9 for 67 yards with one interception.

The competition for Carolina's kicking job remained close as John Kasay kicked a 26-yard field goal but missed from 52 yards and Shayne Graham was good from 42 yards but missed from 44.

Akili Smith, in a desperate attempt at a comeback and a roster spot in Green Bay, was picked off with a minute left and William Hampton returned the interception 30 yards for a touchdown.

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