Notebook: Packers To Rely On Tony Fisher



One day after all signs pointed toward rookie Noah Herron making his first start, Head Coach Mike Sherman announced on Friday that Tony Fisher will start at running back.

The starting designation may prove a moot point because both Herron and Fisher will receive action against the Chicago Bears.

"It's going to be an opportunity for both of us," Fisher said.

The 224-pound Herron will serve as more of a between-the-tackles battering ram while the Packers also will rely on Fisher's pass catching and blocking skills.

If something happens to either Fisher or Herron, the Packers will rely on 11-year veteran William Henderson as their No. 3 and emergency running back. More frequently used as a short-yardage back or a receiver out of the backfield, Henderson has only 96 career rushes. He, however, has impressed the coaching staff with his elusiveness all year.

"He's got that knack of making people miss," offensive coordinator Tom Rossley said. "He's got a little shuffle when he gets there."

By choosing Fisher as his starter, Sherman can count on an experienced player well-versed in the offensive scheme. The four-year veteran has started two games and carried the ball 222 times for 842 yards during his career while Herron has only rushed 11 times for 29 yards in the NFL. Twenty seven of those yards came in the last game versus the Baltimore Ravens.

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48 Hours

With just two days of practice under his belt, wide receiver Rod Gardner has proven to be a quick study.

"My comfort level's pretty good," Gardner said. "I have a grasp on the main part of the offense. There are a few things I still have got to understand, but overall I'm ready to perform."

Gardner's mental and physical skills so impressed Sherman that the receiver will probably receive snaps on Sunday.

"He did a nice job in practice," Sherman said. "I anticipate he'll play some."

Gardner's readiness comes at an opportune time. Wide receiver Robert Ferguson missed Friday's practice because of lingering problems from his knee injury, and the Packers have listed him as questionable.

In addition to impressing the coaching staff with his quick mastery of the offense, Gardner passed the ultimate test, running hitch routes and catching passes from the rifle-armed Brett Favre. The 15-year veteran found his rhythm throwing to Gardner.

"As long as he's good," Gardner said, "I'm good."

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Quick Hits: Recently-acquired punter Ryan Flinn likely will serve as the holder during Sunday's game. Sherman observed his sure-handedness during Friday's practice. "Holding-wise, he seems to be pretty good," he said. Aaron Rodgers remains the other option at holder. ... In between an early morning mock game and night meetings, the Packers players will receive a brief Saturday afternoon break, allowing them to attend Christmas Eve services or spend time with their families. ... Sherman said Na'il Diggs will start at strongside linebacker.

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