Packers' title hopes take a hit

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

The Green Bay Packers' hopes of a Super Bowl look a little dimmer today.

Running back Ryan Grant is done for the season with ligament damage in his ankle and the club doesn't have a proven replacement.

It was a costly opening week for several teams. The Indianapolis Colts lost a major piece in their defence, losing safety Bob Sanders for the second consecutive season to a torn biceps tendon. The New York Jets suffered a setback to their title hopes when nose tackle Kris Jenkins tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Monday night against Baltimore. He's done for the year and perhaps more; it's the same knee that required reconstructive surgery last October, putting Jenkins' career in jeopardy.

Hunting season for quarterbacks started early with three: Matt Stafford in Detroit, Philly's Kevin Kolb and Carolina's Matt Moore all sidelined.

The biggest blow, though, will be felt in Green Bay where Grant was placed on injured reserve, leaving only Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn in the backfield. They also signed running back Dimitri Nance yesterday. The offence was expected to lead the Packers on a Super Bowl run and losing Grant, who had more than 1,200 yards in each of the past two years, will hurt the ground attack.

Jackson, a fourth-year player out of Nebraska, is more highly-regarded as a pass blocker and the most carries he's ever had in a season was 75, in 2007.

Sanders, a two-time Pro Bowl star, attracts injury like a junk-yard dog at a flea farm. Since being drafted he has now played 48 games and missed 49 ... and counting.

He will find out how long he's sidelined today when he visits Dr. James Andrews. But a similar injury in his other arm, plus a knee injury, kept him out of all but two games last year. Sanders, the league's 2007 defensive player of the year, was injured on the Texans' first offensive series when a pass was deflected by Colts safety Antoine Bethea into Sanders' face mask. Sanders left his feet and landed awkwardly on his arm.

Jenkins anchored the Jets run defence and was looking forward to a comeback season, but it lasted only six plays after he was hurt in a pileup. An MRI yesterday confirmed a ligament tear in the same knee he had repaird last October. Jenkins loss, along with that defensive end Ropati Pitoitua in the preseason, will severely test the Jets' status as the NFL's No. 1 overall defence.

Lost leaders

The first quarterback controversy is officially underway.

Matt Moore is still officially the starter in Carolina. But there is every indication Jimmy Clausen is in line to soon take his lumps.

Moore led the team to its first offensive touchdown after they failed to score in preseason.

But they still lost 31-18 to the Giants, he was pressured into three interceptions and a fumble before he was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the fourth quarter. If his head stops spinning he starts this weekend against Tampa Bay. If he can't go, it will be Clausen.

Last year, Jake Delhomme was benched after several performances similar to Moore's.

Raven Ray

Ravens' linebacker Ray Lewis let his actions do the talking.

He helped the Ravens beat the Jets, then afterward he had nothing to say to Jets coach Rex Ryan, who coached Lewis for 10 seasons as a Ravens assistant.

"My team is the Ravens," Lewis told the Baltimore Sun. "I respect Rex. We won a Super Bowl together. But any time you challenge a warrior, a warrior is going to respond."

Lewis said he declined to talk to Ryan because they have nothing to say to each other.

Ryan? With nothing to say? Who is Lewis kidding; Rex Ryan is one of the few people who would show up at his own funeral and insist on deliverying the eulogy.

Quick hits

Bills linebacker Paul Posluszny will miss 2-3 weeks with a knee sprain. They already lost Kawika Mitchell for the season, and newly signed pickup Akin Ayodele will have to play Sunday against the Packers ... The Patriots were on the verge of signing Logan Mankins to a new deal but it fell apart when the team asked him to apologize publicly for comments he made about owner Robert Kraft. Now the lineman has re-issued his demand for a trade ... Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Dennis Dixon, who completed 18 of 26 passes for 236 yards with an interception, will start against the Titans ... The Panthers have brought back kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd, then waived Todd Carter after reaching an injury settlement ... Seahawks' right guard Max Unger injured his left big toe, and is likely to miss the matchup against the Broncos.


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