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Scar tissue removed

Green Bay RB Levens undergoes knee surgery

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Latest: Tuesday August 15, 2000 08:18 PM

  Dorsey Levens Dorsey Levens played in Sunday's exhibition game at Denver, carrying five times for 68 yards. Jonathan Daniel/Allsport

By Don Banks, Sports Illustrated

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers running back Dorsey Levens underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday morning, Packers head coach Mike Sherman announced after the team's morning workout.

Levens, who has experienced patellar tendinitis since an April minicamp, was found only to have a build up of scar tissue around the patellar tendon. The scar tissue was removed, and the Packers are holding out some hope that Levens may return in time for the Sept. 3 regular-season opener against the New York Jets.

"I believe that if everything goes well, he has an outside chance to play in the first game," Sherman said. "But obviously that's not what we're expecting to happen.

"There's a chance, a very outside chance, he would be ready. If he's not ready for the first game, then we'll shoot for the second game, and if not, the third game."

Early tests for Sherman
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- This isn't how Mike Sherman envisioned his first season as an NFL head coach unfolding.

Halfway through the preseason, Sherman's Rock-of-Gilbralter-like demeanor is already being tested by a green-and-gold tidal wave of injuries.

Brett Favre is resting his sore right elbow and may wind up missing his team's final three preseason games. Dorsey Levens underwent left knee surgery Tuesday and is a longshot to return in time for the Sept. 3 season opener.

Newly acquired running back Ahman Green? Out four to six weeks with a sprained right knee. Receiver Corey Bradford? A broken left leg will leave him on the sidelines for seven or eight weeks. And don't forget about starting linebacker Anthony Harris (neck), rookie running back Rondell Mealey (knee) and linebacker Bernardo Harris (knee bruise), all of whom have been swept up in the Green Bay Packers' injury plague in recent days.

"I'm still healthy, so that's a plus," quipped Sherman on Tuesday, laughing in order to keep from crying.

Hardest hit at running back, receiver and linebacker, the Packers already have been thrust into something of a stop-gap mentality in mid-August. On Tuesday, Packers general manager Ron Wolf made two roster moves, shipping a undisclosed draft choice to Denver for third-year linebacker Nate Wayne, and waiving fullback Marvin Powell, who was acquired from New Orleans in July.

Some would say that all the Packers' injuries serve at least one silver-lining purpose: Given their state of current decimation, the Packers and Sherman actually may benefit early in the season from a lowering of expectations.

Not that Sherman is buying that rationale. Remember, the last guy in his job went 8-8 in his first season and was sent, ahem, packing.

"The expectations of the Green Bay Packers are the same," Sherman said. "Those don't change with injuries. We're going to do everything we can do, with or without those guys.

"In the National Football League, you have to be able to handle injuries. They're as much a part of the game as blocking and tackling are. That's just the way it goes. We can't control this part of the game. I can't control the fact that Dorsey has a bum knee at this point, and that we have a few injuries. We'll get through this."

The Packers will persevere. But no one ever said it would be pain free.

-- By Don Banks, Sports Illustrated 

Levens played in Sunday's exhibition game at Denver, carrying five times for 68 yards. However, he complained of continued soreness in the knee both before and after the game.

A decision to do exploratory arthroscopic surgery was made Monday afternoon, Sherman said. The surgery was performed at 7 a.m. Tuesday and lasted about 15 minutes.

"It was big plus for us to see the scar tissue," Sherman said, "because that answered the riddle of 'what's wrong?' There was something wrong, so hopefully that was it and that's all of it. I think he's going to be OK."

Levens was also found to have some arthritis in the knee joint, but Levens and the organization had been previously aware of that.

The Packers already lost running back Ahman Green to a sprained ligament in his right knee against the Broncos, as well as seventh-round pick Rondell Mealey to a torn knee in the Jets game.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Packers general manager Ron Wolf said the team would attempt to get through the final two preseason games without making any further roster moves at running back or receiver, which is also thinned by injury.

"We're not going to go anywhere there," Wolf said. "We're very comfortable right now where we are. The only way we'd go into those areas is if we lose someone else. We think we have enough to get through this."

Former Green Bay veteran Edgar Bennett, who has been released by Chicago, is not a likely alternative, Sherman said.

Asked if he was concerned about the state of his hobbled running game, Sherman said, "Yes, it's a concern, but I have a lot of confidence in who we have.

"We have a young kid named Herb Goodman, who's doing a fine job out there. We have Basil Mitchell. And those are the guys we have to play with. Nothing changes, the expectations are the same. The challenges are a little bit more extreme, but our fans still expect us to win that first ballgame."

Wolf said the Packers are right up against their salary cap and have no plans to add veterans like Bennett, and recently released receivers Andre Rison or Vincent Brisby.

Green Bay plays at Miami on Monday night, then must fly home and just 12 hours or so later cut its squad to the mandatory 65 players by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

"We were feeling pretty good about ourselves and then we go to Denver. My God," Wolf said. "We had them all. The drummer, the flag carrier and the fife player, they were all there, lined up. For a while that was your worst nightmare. Looking at your salary cap, and there they are standing over there. It wasn't a good feeling."

In the case of Favre's injury, Wolf said it is likely a situation the Packers may have to live with all season long.

"I don't think it's quite as critical as people are making it sound," he said. "I realize there's going to be discomfort, and it's certainly not my arm. But that's the way it's probably going to be most of the year. So it makes no sense to run him into the ground now. He's probably going to have to experience that all season."

  • In other Packers injury news, Sherman said Favre is a good bet to sit out Monday night's exhibition game at Miami. There is a possibility Favre will miss both of Green Bay's remaining preseason games as a precaution against doing further damage to the tendinitis in his right elbow.

    "I'd say there's a good chance he won't play Monday night, based on his arm," Sherman said. "Now, if he makes a miraculous recovery and there's no soreness, then there's a chance he'd play. But I doubt that at this present time.

    "Brett's situation is such that I think it's foolish to push him ahead of schedule ... but I believe Brett Favre will be ready for the first regular-season game."

    Related information
    SI's Banks: MRI confirms Favre has tendinitis's Karp: Favre to undero MRI on Monday
    Bronco backups break through against Packers
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