Injured Packers running back Tony Fisher wants nothing more than to return to the playing field.
"It's extremely frustrating," he said. "I want to be out there playing with the boys."
The Packers, however, may have to rely on Samkon Gado and ReShard Lee in the running game on Sunday while Fisher recovers from a mysterious rib injury.
Fisher said he suffered the injury prior to the Oct. 30 Cincinnati Bengals game, his first start of the season, and hopes to return this weekend. The worst case scenario, however, has him missing six weeks of action.
"I don't imagine his availability will be anytime soon," Head Coach Mike Sherman said.
As a result Sherman tentatively named Gado his starting running back.
"It's Sam Gado if we were playing today," he said.
The rookie Gado rushed the ball 26 times for 62 yards and caught one pass for nine yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He received his only previous NFL action the week before, registering one carry for eight yards. Not used to the workload, Gado noticed the affects of Sunday's pounding as he lumbered out of bed on Monday morning.
"I felt like I was a hit by a train," he said.
To overcome the bruising and ready himself for Sunday, Gado plans to follow a routine of 10 to 15 minutes in the cool tub, hot tub and steam room every day this week. He said he should feel fresher on Tuesday.
Judging by Sunday's performance, a ready-to-go Gado should bolster the running game.
"I wouldn't say he made a splash," Sherman said. "But he made some ripples."
The Packers, however, would prefer seeing Fisher take the majority of the snaps because of the four-year veteran's familiarity with the offense. Fisher remains a possibility to play on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
"I feel good," he said. "I feel like I could play right now. I feel like I could've played yesterday ... It's more about safety. It's more about making sure my heart and lungs are protected."
The Packers' doctors will test Fisher on Wednesday. If the fluid in his shoulder subsides, he will play.
Fisher said the Packers doctors had never seen an injury like his where a stress fracture of a rib leads to bleeding and fluid build up in the shoulder. Nothing showed up on X-rays last week, and Fisher needed an MRI and a CAT scan to identify the fracture.
"This injury's like one in a million for a football player," Fisher said.
If Fisher cannot play, Gado will see the majority of the action, but Lee also will receive repetitions.
Lee started Sunday's game and ran the ball twice for three yards before fumbling on the third play of the Packers' second drive of the game. Sherman always has placed an emphasis on ball control, and replaced Lee with Gado after that play.
"That warranted the change," Sherman said.
Following Lee's fumble, the Steelers recovered and took advantage of the starting field position on the Packers' 45-yard line, scoring a 24-yard field goal seven plays later.
Despite that mistake Lee, acquired on Oct. 6, has displayed a nice burst, soft hands and a good retention for the offense.
"Lee's done a nice job," Sherman said. "Lee will get his time again."
Before the season the Packers viewed the running back position as a team strength. Sherman even deemed the troika of Ahman Green, Najeh Davenport and Fisher as a "three-headed monster," but season-ending injuries have felled Green and Davenport. Because of Fisher's rib injury, the Packers were down to their No. 4 running back on Sunday.
Fisher's injury remains mysterious but does not carry the same severity as Green's and Davenport's.
"We're talking totally different injuries," Fisher said.
Behind the fresh legs of two young backs and with Fisher regaining his health, the Packers may have a new three-headed monster featuring Fisher, Gado and Lee.