Injured Davenport Returns To Locker Room

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As he hobbled into the locker room on crutches for the first time on Thursday since suffering a season-ending ankle injury, running back Najeh Davenport was all smiles, talking and joking with several players including fullback Vonta Leach.

Instead of assuming a "woe is me" attitude, Davenport has taken the injury in stride.

"That's life," he said. "That's how people get down. They start thinking about stuff they can't control."

If his doctors decide to remove his cast on Friday, Davenport could start rehabilitation the same day. If the cast stays on, that process will wait until Monday.

Davenport's ankle buckled when New Orleans Saints linebacker Courtney Watson tackled him following a two-yard-gain with 2:56 remaining in the second quarter of the Oct. 9th game. He sustained ligament damage and a couple of fractures to his lower fibula, and doctors inserted pins and a screw to stabilize it.

"Hopefully if everything goes well," he said, "by the end of March, I should be back to running."

After earning the start due to No. 1 running back Ahman Green's knee injury, Davenport responded with 54 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns during the Packers' 52-3 romp against the Saints.

Davenport earned a game ball for his efforts.

"He did an awesome job," fullback William Henderson said. "He did a fantastic job for us."

He finished the season with 30 carries for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

Davenport has visited Lambeau Field every day this week, but he returned to the locker room for the first time on Thursday -- one day after another player on injured reserve, Terrence Murphy (neck), stopped by.

Although Davenport spent the time joking and chatting up teammates, a reporter mentioned the harsh reality. According to his timetable, he would recover at the beginning of 2006 free agent derby.

However, Davenport, whose deal with the Packers expires at the end of the year, remained positive regarding his contract status -- just as he has about his ankle injury.

"I'm taking it the same I took everything else -- straight ahead, looking it dead in the eye," he said. "I can't do anything but get better."

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