'Backers Set To Handle Shakeup


With just one day remaining in the practice week, it appears more and more likely that Paris Lenon will be in the starting lineup Sunday against Detroit as Na'il Diggs remains listed as doubtful on the injury report and missed practice Thursday for the second straight day.

Diggs sustained a bruised kidney in second quarter of last week's game at Philadelphia in a diving attempt to make a tackle. Diggs, the 'Will' linebacker in the Packers setup, ranks second on the team with 101 tackles and is on pace to better the career-best of 123 that he set a year ago.

Lenon has primarily been a special teams standout in his three seasons with the Packers, but he has provided cover at all three linebacker spots at different times this season. He previously started in place of Hannibal Navies at the 'Buck' position against Tennessee with Navies sidelined due to a shoulder ailment.

GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said earlier in the week that he has confidence in Lenon's ability to step up and fill Diggs' role if necessary against the Lions.

"Paris has done a nice job," Sherman said. "I would anticipate that if in fact Diggs couldn't play, Paris would be a viable option there. I have a lot of confidence in him. He comes to work every day, works hard, is focused. He does a nice job."

The linebackers who would be starting alongside Lenon also have a great deal of faith in the former University of Richmond Spider.

"He's been in there before," Navies said. "When I got hurt earlier this year, he came in and did a great job. Paris is always one of those guys you can look to and he'll know what he's doing. We'll definitely miss Diggs, but he's going to step in and do well."

Middle linebacker Nick Barnett agreed.

"Diggs is going to be missed - he's a great linebacker - but Paris is also a great player and I think he's going to do a good job," said Barnett. "He's been playing that position all year and he's been getting a couple of snaps here and there, especially in the last game he had a lot of snaps. He's been practicing well so we expect a lot from him."

Lenon is looking forward to getting on the field, especially in a position where he feels most comfortable.

"It's just an opportunity to play," he said. "I've played this season, but anytime you get an opportunity to go out there and play a lot, it's great.

"I think playing off the ball is more natural for me. I played there all through college and that's pretty much what I'm accustomed to. I can play the 'Buck', but I guess you could say I'm a little more comfortable at 'Will'. It just feels a little bit more natural to me."

The injury to Diggs has brought about some other changes in the linebacking corps for the Green and Gold. Steve Josue returned to the Packers Thursday, signed as a free agent off of the practice squad of the San Francisco 49ers.

Josue was among the team's final roster cuts in early September after his second training camp in Green Bay. He was drafted by the team in the seventh round in 2003 and spent the duration of last season on the Packers' practice squad.

The former Carson-Newman College standout is excited about his opportunity to return to Green Bay and get a chance to get on the field.

"It's just an opportunity that's been handed to me and I want to take advantage of it," Josue said. "I have to come and prepare. I know it's short notice, but I'll just come out and do the best I can. Study, get with the coaches, get with the game plan, learn and watch film and hopefully come out on Sunday and contribute."

Though he's been away from the Packers' system for three months, Josue doesn't expect to need much time to get back up to speed in the defense.

"I still have some of the stuff in the back of my mind. I don't think it will take that long, just some studying, some film-watching and spending time with the coaches to sit down and get into the game plan and I should be there pretty good."

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