Running back Tony Fisher, who has developed into the Packers' third down specialist, will be looked upon to fill a bigger role in the Green Bay backfield Sunday. Fisher stepped up Monday night after Najeh Davenport exited the game with a strained hamstring, and will be looked upon to continue as Ahman Green's primary back-up when the Chicago Bears invade Lambeau Field for the home opener.
The former Notre Dame runner carried the ball nine times for 32 yards against Carolina, and also caught two passes en route to converting four of his 11 touches into Packer first downs.
Fisher said that he is looking forward to continuing the success that he and the rest of the team enjoyed in the running game, and will do whatever is asked of him to help get the Packers to 2-0.
"Whatever the coaches have confidence in me doing, I just go out there and try to make the best out of every opportunity," Fisher said. "When they give me a chance, I know my opportunities are limited, so I've got to make the best out of everything. If it's running the ball, I'm going to go out there and do the best job I can, and if it's catching the ball, I'm going to do what I can. Whatever my role is for that game, I just go out there and do the best I can at it."
GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman is equally confident in the third-year back.
"He's a third down guy that gets first downs," Sherman said. "He's done that for us last year and the year before. He doesn't get much more than the chains. Sometimes I wish he would go a little bit further, but he seems to get right to the chains and get us those first downs and I'm appreciative of that for sure because they are big plays in the ball game to be able to keep the chains moving by getting the ball to the sticks and he seems to have a knack for that, whether it's through the run, pass, screens, draws - he's been pretty proficient as a third down back. We're very fortunate to have him."
Packers Hot Following Prime Time Performances
So much of what goes into winning in the NFL is a result of what teams can get done in preparation for an opponent in the days leading up to their meeting on the field. Given that fact, you would think that a team who plays Monday night would be at a distinct disadvantage when facing a team that has a full day and a half edge after playing on Sunday afternoon.
Mike Sherman's Packers are not among those who subscribe to that theory, however. Since Sherman took the helm as the team's head coach in 2000, the Packers are 8-1 coming off appearances on Monday Night Football, and have won eight consecutive games during such "short weeks".
The coach attributed such success to some advanced preparation that he and his coaches do, looking ahead to their compressed schedules. He said that the staff worked some of their game planning for the upcoming Bears contest before the team got on the plane for last week's opening game in Carolina.
"Some of the things we did in our practices last week were Chicago-related," said Sherman. The players were not aware of that, but there were some things put in that game plan that would carry over. You do have a limited amount of time, and put something in just this week would be difficult. Those are some of the proactive things we do".
Defensive end Aaron Kampman thinks that the team's record on Sundays following Monday night games is just as much of a mental accomplishment as it is a physical one.
"The approach and the mindset of it is kind of a rallying point for our team," Kampman said. We take a lot of pride in being mentally tough football players. That's what it comes down to after a Monday night game, with a short week like this."
'Don't Tell Us How Good We Are'
After the dominant performance turned in by the offensive line at Carolina Monday, you might think that the five-man group would be boasting about their exploits and talking about accolades. Not so, and as right guard Marco Rivera said, they're not trying to pat themselves on the back after one good game.
"We had a good night Monday night," Rivera said. "That's the way you want to come out against a good opponent at their place and try to run the ball.
"It's way too early to say anything about the offensive line. We just had a good game, but the season is not built on one game. If we keep this up throughout the year, then I would say that we do have a very good offensive line, but right now we've just had a good game and we've got to keep improving every week."
Sherman is looking forward to seeing his group match up with the Bears' defensive line, but he knows they will have a tough test on their hands for the second straight game.
"They see a very active and athletic group of defenders with Chicago Bear jerseys on," said Sherman. "They know that it's a very athletic group that can cause some havoc if we're not good with our assignments and our techniques. Our offensive line really prides itself in being the best they can be at all times. They see a challenge ahead of them in regard to the Bears because they are a very athletic, fast group of men."
Chicago made headlines by acquiring Pro Bowl defensive end Adewale Ogunleye during the preseason, and along with first-round draft choice Tommie Harris at defensive tackle, the Bears will have two new faces for left guard Mike Wahle and his linemates to match up with.
"(Ogunleye) is a good player, no doubt about it," Wahle said. He'll be playing over Tausch (Mark Tauscher). Luckily, our tackles can block anybody in this league, so I'm sure it will be a good match-up, but we expect our guy to win, of course.
"Their D-line is definitely improved from last year - vastly improved, I think. The younger guys are getting that much older and more experienced. They have two new guys on that side of the football that are pretty good players."
Packers Join NFL Teams In Honoring Tillman
In conjunction with the Arizona Cardinals' home opener this Sunday, the Packers will join this weekend in a league-wide tribute to the memory of former Cardinals safety Pat Tillman, who was killed last April in a combat mission while on patrol with his U.S. Army Rangers unit in Afghanistan.
All NFL players will wear #40 decals on their helmets this weekend in honor of Tillman. Cardinals players will wear the decal throughout the season, while all other teams will wear it this weekend only.
The NFL and NFL Players Association have announced that they will generate funds for the newly created Pat Tillman Foundation by donating their proceeds from sales of Tillman's No. 40 uniform jersey.