After producing the two biggest rushing games of the season for the Packers, Samkon Gado managed only seven yards on 10 carries against the Minnesota Vikings.
"I didn't run the ball well enough for this team to win," Gado said. "You don't win games with the running production we had."
Gado's lowlight came 44 seconds into the third quarter. Linebacker E.J. Henderson forced a fumble, which fullback Vonta Leach recovered. Head Coach Mike Sherman then replaced Gado, who fumbled for the third time in two games, with Tony Fisher. Sherman did not notify Gado of the impending benching. But no explanation was necessary.
"He didn't talk to me at all, and he didn't need to. He didn't need to say a thing. I understood completely," Gado said. "If I was a coach, I would've done the same thing."
The rookie running back looked poised for another strong performance. On Green Bay's first offensive play, he rushed for six yards. On the second play of their second possession, Brett Favre faked the ball to Gado and threw a 30-yard completion to him. Although things went downhill from there, Gado vowed to return to the form he flashed early in the Vikings game while fixing his ball control problems.
"Once we look at the film, I'll have to address specifically what's causing it," Gado said. "Once we do, then we'll go from there -- whether it's a matter of drills, or just holding the ball a certain way during practice or even going to sleep with the ball."
Ferguson Returns As Starter
After missing three games with a sprained ligament in his knee and then reaggravating the injury during Thursday's practice, wide receiver Robert Ferguson started on Monday night.
"It's great just to back and have some fun with the fellas," Ferguson said. "It would've felt a lot better if we had won."
Ferguson, who reported his health to be at about 80 percent, said he did not know whether he would play until right before the game. He clinched his start by running well for the coaching staff during pregame warm-ups.
"I felt like I could make some plays out there," he said.
Ferguson finished with one catch for five yards, but his presence allowed the Packers to use their four wide receiver set for the first time since Ferguson initially strained his left knee. The Packers limited his repetitions in the second half because Ferguson's conditioning has not returned to pre-injury levels.
"That was the game plan," Ferguson said. "I haven't been running a lot."
The Vikings game, however, could serve as a launching pad for a healthy Ferguson during the rest of the season.
"Next week I'll be feeling even better," he said.
Walker Supports Team
Wide receiver Javon Walker attended the Monday night game, making his first appearance since undergoing reconstructive knee surgery in early October.
"It feels good to be back in Lambeau," Walker said. "It was kind of exciting to watch the guys play again."
Walker, who walked without a limp, has already started to lift weights with his legs and jog lightly.
"I'm fine," Walker said. "Surgery went well."
Walker tore his anterior cruciate ligament while running a sideline route during a 17-3 loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 1. That injury ended his season, and now he finds himself in the exasperating role of spectator.
"It's frustrating," Walker said. "You can only imagine what direction we'd be going in if we were all healthy."
When he returns for the 2006 season, Walker expects to regain the form he showed while catching 89 passes for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2004.
"All I can do is look forward to what's going to happen next year," Walker said.
First Half Run Stuffer
Grady Jackson recorded six tackles, a high number for an interior player whose main responsibility is to occupy blockers.
"They kept running at me," Jackson said. "(I was) penetrating, trying to split the double team."
Center Cory Withrow and right guard Adam Goldberg and center applied most of those double teams, which proved ineffective in the first half.
Jackson and the Packers' run defense faltered in the second half. They wore down as the Vikings grinded out 22:29 of a possible 30 minutes. Running back Mewelde Moore gashed the Packers' defense by slashing into cut back lanes, gaining 90 of his 122 rushing yards in the second half.
"The running back did a great job," Jackson said. "We've got to close the door."