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Packers offense hit with pair of injuries

The Packers might be without two key players on offense when they play the Bucs on Sunday in a showdown of the league's only 8-2 teams.

Right guard Marco Rivera and rookie Najeh Davenport out of Miami, who backs up tailback Ahman Green and fullback William Henderson, were injured early in Green Bay's 31-21 loss Sunday at Minnesota.

Davenport won't play against Tampa Bay and might need season-ending surgery on his broken left eye socket, coach Mike Sherman said Monday. Davenport was hurt when he hit Nick Davis on the opening kickoff.

Rivera might be sidelined Sunday. He sprained his right knee in the first offensive series. Bill Ferrario replaced him, forcing Green Bay to abandon its usual misdirection running game for a straight-ahead attack that netted Green 71 yards on 18 carries.

The ground game sputtered even though Green Bay didn't see many eight-man fronts or blitzes. "It wasn't like there was eight guys in there giving us heck," Sherman said. "It was a two-deep scheme and we've been fairly effective running against two-deep. It was, however, very aggressive."

Cornerback Tyrone Williams criticized the defensive game plan that left him in single coverage most of the game with one safety _ Darren Sharper _ focused on receiver Randy Moss and the other _ Marques Anderson _ dedicated to stopping running back Michael Bennett.

Emmitt unhappy

IRVING, Texas _ Emmitt Smith knew his role with the Cowboys would change after he became the NFL career rushing leader. He just didn't expect it to get cut so much, so fast.

Two games after breaking Walter Payton's rushing record, Smith had just eight carries for 22 yards in a 20-3 loss Sunday at Indianapolis. It was his lowest total since a blowout loss in the 2000 opener, when he ran seven times.

The reason Smith didn't get the ball much was because the Cowboys wanted to get a look at backup Troy Hambrick. The former Pasco High standout carried seven times, gaining 42 yards.

Smith said coach Dave Campo never told him the change was going to be this drastic.

"They didn't make that clear at all. I'm very disappointed by that," Smith said. "I do deserve to be communicated to in a proper manner. I think I earned that much where they can just communicate to me to what degree that they want to go."

The Smith-to-Hambrick transition is a sensitive situation for the Cowboys, who built their entire marketing plan around Smith's pursuit of the record. Smith passed Payton in Dallas' last home game, Oct. 27.

With Smith unlikely to return under his current contract _ he is due a base salary of at least $7-million next year, when he will be 34 and in his 14th season _ the Cowboys have to evaluate Hambrick, who says he deserves a chance.

"I have always admired Emmitt and his will and the things he's done over his career," Hambrick said. "I just feel like it comes a time, it's not my call to say when it's time, but I'm a guy that wants to get my career off the ground and establish myself as a household name."

During training camp, Hambrick said he was the best running back in the organization, then he stayed relatively quiet during Smith's run to the record. "That's been hard, but I bit my tongue," he said. "I'm now ready to do a little bit myself."

In a radio interview broadcast during Sunday's game, Hambrick hinted that Smith had nothing else to accomplish and could only tarnish his image by continuing to play.

MADDOX UP AND AROUND: Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox, injured Sunday against Tennessee, was up and walking again before being released from a Nashville hospital. He has concussions to the brain and spinal cord, but no structural damage.

Maddox hasn't been cleared to play _ he was admitted to a Pittsburgh hospital Monday night for more precautionary tests _ but the Steelers are relieved and optimistic he might return this season.

SAINTS PLAYER ARRESTED: New Orleans tackle Victor Riley was charged with driving while intoxicated. Riley was charged with first-offense DWI, reckless operation and disobeying traffic control signals, Orleans Parish police said.

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