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Packers Notebook - Defense Looking To Contain McNabb


Much has been made - and rightfully so - about the season Eagles' receiver Terrell Owens is having and what a change he has brought to their offense. One change that the addition of Owens has brought about has been a decline in the rushing yards of quarterback Donovan McNabb.

McNabb has been running less and throwing more, as he has gained 183 yards on the ground through 11 games and is on pace for his lowest rushing totals of his six-year career.

The Packers, however, are by no means overlooking his running ability though. McNabb was Philadelphia's leading rusher in the teams' playoff meeting last year, running for 107 yards on 11 carries.

Green Bay defenders are preparing for this mobile quarterback much the same way they do when they face the Vikings' Daunte Culpepper, whom they limited to just 19 rushing yards three weeks ago.

"My job is the same as if we're facing Daunte Culpepper," said linebacker Nick Barnett. "There might be a couple plays that we have in strategically for a running quarterback, we'll put in a spy but we do put in plays for that."

GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman sees the similarities between the two mobile quarterbacks, but pointed out there are noticeable differences as well.

"They're a little bit different," Sherman said. "I have the utmost respect for Daunte Culpepper and what he's done at quarterback, particularly since we have to play him twice a year. He's such a tough guy to tackle. McNabb is more like a running back. When he wants to take off and go, he's a big man but he's not 260 or whatever Daunte is.

"He just has tremendous feel for taking off and running. He has the speed that if you're not careful, he's in the end zone pretty quickly. He's been a factor in our last two ballgames. He's had some runs against us that have been significant."

Linebacker Hannibal Navies knows that the defense has a tough task at hand in containing McNabb, and he feels it's going to take a complete team effort to do so.

"Donovan is a great all-around quarterback," said Navies. "He doesn't just do one thing very well - he's a great passer, a great runner, he reads defenses very well - so he's come along.

"Our D-line has a great challenge this week. They definitely have to keep him in the pocket, keep him from escaping on us. It's also not just their responsibility, it's the linebackers'. Whoever is assigned to him, we've just got to work as a unit together."

Former Packer Still Going Strong

Another man looking to pick holes in the Green Bay defense Sunday will be former Packer running back Dorsey Levens. The runner spent eight seasons with the Packers (1994-2001) and serves as the Eagles' primary backup to starter Brian Westbrook.

He's gained 260 yards this season and scored two touchdowns. Sherman said he's glad to see the 34-year old Levens succeeding.

"Dorsey's one of my all-time favorite guys," said Sherman when asked if he's surprised Levens is still running at an age when most NFL backs are out of the game. "He was a class guy when he was here. He's still the same guy. I'm very pleased when I put the tape on and watch him have success. But I won't be pleased if he has that success against us.

"Dorsey Levens is a pro and he takes care of himself and he helps that team. He's a big part of that team, I believe. He's not a vocal leader as you guys remember, but boy did he set a great example when he was here, and I'm sure he's doing the same thing there."

Levens' long-time teammate Brett Favre echoed Sherman, saying he's not surprised at all that Levens continues to run strong.

"No, I'm not surprised by it," said Favre. "Dorsey - I hated to see him go. In some ways he was like (Antonio Freeman). He was not a blazer, didn't really do one particular thing great, he did everything well, and 'Free' was that way. He just kind of snuck up on people and had 90 catches. Dorsey was one of those guys who was very reliable, hard worker, kept himself in great shape, and very dependable. That's hard to find. I'm not surprised he's still going."

Add Tight End To Luchey's Résumé

The ever-versatile Nick Luchey will have another role added to his menu of responsibilities this week as he will be called upon as the Packers' third tight end.

David Martin was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week and fullback Vonta Leach has recently been added to the active roster, giving the coaching staff extra flexibility to move Luchey around where he is needed.

In addition to his most prevalent role as a fullback, Luchey is a key cog in the team's special teams units and also has the ability to play tailback. Sherman spoke Friday about #22's added area of work.

"Luchey's going to play a role there as well, as a third tight end in our offense," said the coach. "It's a very easy adaptation with the elevation of Leach to the 45-man roster. He played a significant role, particularly the other day on special teams.

"Luchey can fill in as a tailback, he can be the fullback, and he can be the movement tight end. I don't necessarily think he can be the on the line of scrimmage tight end - but I think we have enough of those guys - he can be and H-back type of tight end that we do employ quite a bit."

Flu Bug Bites Sharper

Already on the injury report as he continues to recover from a sprained knee, safety Darren Sharper missed practice Friday after coming down with a touch of the flu. Sherman said he didn't expect the illness to keep the veteran defender from playing Sunday, but he did say that it's not a guarantee that Sharper will be in the starting lineup.

Also listed on the week's final infirmary list were Najeh Davenport (ribs), Robert Ferguson (foot/groin), Bubba Franks (back), Ahman Green (ribs), Grady Jackson (knee), Bhawoh Jue (hip pointer), and Paris Lenon (knee).

Aside from Davenport who is listed as questionable, everyone else on the report was given the prognosis of probable, meaning they have a 75% or better chance of suiting up for the game.

All of those listed practiced Friday with the exception of Franks, Lenon, and Sharper.

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