Sherman: Marshall's Relocation A 'Need-Move'


A week ago it would have been hard to imagine that running back Rondell Mealey would be waived to make room for offensive tackle Barrett Brooks, or that linebacker Torrance Marshall would be changing his number and his position to prepare as a backup fullback.

But that was last week, when it would have been equally difficult to predict the multitude of injuries that forced this turn of events.

In many ways it started with the quadriceps injury that kept Ahman Green out of the lineup in Detroit. Mealey, a third-year back, was given the starting nod in Green's absence, but on the Packers' opening series he made a rush for no gain on first down and dropped a soft Brett Favre pass on second down.

Enter rookie Najeh Davenport, who GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman drafted in April as a fullback, but with the idea that the former Miami Hurricane could step in at halfback if needed.

And needed, he was. His number called, Davenport put together an impressive debut, making 22 carries for 84 yards to lead the Packers' ground attack.

Yet Davenport's relocation created a hole at fullback. A hole that grew larger when starter William Henderson went down with a knee injury, and larger still when tight end David Martin, the emergency third-team fullback, couldn't step in after sustaining a concussion.

That's when the call went out to Marshall, who had received some instruction at fullback during training camp, but hadn't played the position since his Pop Warner days.

In a pinch, he performed. Marshall was the fullback on the field when Davenport converted a key third-and-1 on the Packers' first scoring drive of the second half, and when Favre connected with Bubba Franks for a touchdown later in the third quarter.

As much as everyone hoped his turn at fullback would be a one-time happenstance, with both Henderson and Martin questionable for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers, and with Davenport needing to be protected as the No. 2 halfback, Marshall will be called upon to back up recent addition Tony Carter.

"It's a need-move at this present time," Sherman said. "We'll see how it goes, but we need to protect ourselves at the fullback position."

The Packers also needed to protect themselves at offensive tackle, where they'd yet to add a player to fill the void left by Mark Tauscher's season-ending knee injury, and guard, where starter Marco Rivera is listed as questionable with a knee injury.

As a result, Brooks was in and Mealey -- already displaced as the No. 2 halfback -- was out.

"He's a great kid, he's worked extremely hard, and that was one of the toughest calls I've had to make," Sherman said of Mealey's release. "But with Najeh Davenport's emergence last week in that game it . . . made him more expendable . . .

"Not easy decisions, but decisions that had to be made."

Sherman said Marshall's move to fullback was in no way a reflection of his development as a middle linebacker, noting that "if his services are required" Marshall could be back on the defensive side of the ball this weekend.

"He's really a pretty good fullback," Sherman said. "He has taken to it quite naturally . . . This will just make us a stronger team to put him in there, particularly for this ballgame."

Marshall said he would do whatever the coaches asked of him.

"I want to be a team player," he said. "Team players do things like this whenever something negative happens to help the team win."

NOTEWORTHY: The NFL has fined Lions linebacker Barrett Green $5,000 for his forearm blow into the facemask of the Packers' David Martin last weekend. Martin suffered a lacerated lip that required stitches. He is questionable for this week with a concussion.

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