Just one week removed from making his return to the Green Bay Packers locker room, cornerback Mike McKenzie may be making the move back into the starting line-up for this Sunday' match-up with the Indianapolis Colts and their high-powered offense.
Michael Hawthorne has been in the starting 11 for GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman's defense throughout the preseason and the first two games of the regular season, and has played well. The fifth-year player from Purdue had seven tackles and forced two fumbles against Chicago Sunday, making Sherman's decision even more difficult.
Sherman said Wednesday that the starter will be determined throughout the week of preparation for the Colts game. McKenzie will definitely see more time than he did in his debut Sunday, when he was only on the field for about 10 snaps in passing situations.
"There's a chance Mike could start this week, a good chance," said Sherman. "We're going to increase the volume of reps that he has had in practice more so this week and push the envelope in this direction. Michael Hawthorne will again be a part of the package in a big-time way. Mike's role will be enhanced this week."
Defensive coordinator Bob Slowik said that if McKenzie is the starter at left cornerback this week, it is unlikely that he would be able to play every snap, given his limited prep time.
"If Coach Sherman decides that he is the starter, he's going to have to be rested," said Slowik. "He's not going to be capable of playing a whole game at this point without being spelled on occasion."
Receivers Ready For A Shootout
Sunday's game will mark just the second time that quarterbacks Brett Favre and Peyton Manning will have met on the field. If their Hall of Fame-caliber numbers are any indication, the meeting could yield an exciting, high-scoring affair like the Packers 26-24 win in a last-minute thriller back in 2000.
Even though both teams have established prolific running attacks in recent years, Packers wideout Donald Driver sees a lot of work in store for the RCA Dome's scoreboard operator.
"It's going to be two great offenses going at it, and it's going to be two great defenses going at it," Driver said. "It's going to be a shootout regardless of the situation. Whether it's running or passing, it's going to be a shootout."
Javon Walker was asked if he felt slighted by the attention that Manning and his receivers, especially Marvin Harrison, get in the media. He thinks that Sunday could be a show for the men with the 'G' on their helmets, as well, one that everyone will want to watch.
"People should talk about them - they have the numbers to back it up," said Walker. "They've proven it and shown it. When we get out there, we're going to show what we can do, too. It's going to be exciting. It's going to be an exciting game."
'Edge' On The Shelf?
Indianapolis star running back Edgerrin James appears to have returned to his Pro Bowl form of 1999 and 2000, racking up 266 yards and two touchdowns in the Colts' first two games of the season. However, James came up with a hamstring injury after his 30-yard TD run at Tennessee on Sunday, and was listed on the Wednesday's injury report as questionable to be in the backfield against the Packers this week.
Tony Dungy, the Colts' head coach, said in a conference call Wednesday that he didn't expect James to be ready for Sunday, but no one in the Packers locker room was breathing a sigh of relief.
Dominic Rhodes, James' understudy, is a capable back-up who ran for over 1,100 yards in his rookie season of 2001 when James was limited to playing in just six games by a knee injury.
Mike Sherman knows that whichever back lines up behind Peyton Manning Sunday, his Packers must do a better job of stopping the run this week.
"James is one of the best running backs in this league, but when Rhodes has been in there, he has run extremely well," said Sherman. "It wouldn't change a whole lot of how we're going to approach this football team. They have certain runs they run that are specific to their offense, I don't think necessarily specific to either player. They're going to run their offense."
Defensive end Aaron Kampman said he might look for only one difference based upon who is in the line-up for Indianapolis.
"Just the name on the back of the jersey (is different)," he said. "From what I've seen and heard about him, he's a tremendous back also. Maybe he's not Edgerrin James, but he's very good and we'll prepare for either of them."