Packers' Barnett out for season with knee injury

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Middle linebacker Nick Barnett will miss the rest of the season after tearing a right knee ligament in the Green Bay Packers' loss at Minnesota on Sunday.

The injury is a major blow to an already-suspect run defense which gave up 192 yards rushing to Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and now must function without one of its leaders.

"He's very disappointed," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. "It's unfortunate. But we need to have the other guys step up."

McCarthy said coaches were discussing plans to replace Barnett, including using backup Desmond Bishop or moving outside linebackers A.J. Hawk or Brandon Chillar to the middle.

"We'll probably make that call tomorrow," McCarthy said.

Barnett was injured on the Vikings' first drive of the second half while trying to tackle Peterson.

"I shot downhill, fast, trying to get a shot on him, and he cut back," Barnett said after Sunday's game. "So I tried to cut, and it was just bad footing."

Vikings running back Chester Taylor turned a short pass into a 47-yard touchdown on the next play after Barnett's immediate replacement, Bishop, blew the coverage.

"I definitely could've done better," Bishop said after the game. "The touchdown I gave up was bad."

However, Bishop said he was "definitely" comfortable with the possibility of having to take over Barnett's starting role.

Barnett said after Sunday's game that he was "just hoping for the best," but McCarthy said medical tests Monday morning revealed the severity of the injury. Surgery hasn't yet been scheduled, and McCarthy did not provide details of Barnett's rehabilitation timeline.

Barnett, a first-round draft pick in 2003, was named a Pro Bowl alternate last season after receiving a contract extension through 2012.

Barnett forfeited his paycheck for the first game of this season under the NFL's personal-conduct policy, after reaching a plea bargain deal for his role in a disturbance at an Appleton nightclub last year. The NFL also has fined Barnett a total of $15,000 this season for a pair of hits deemed illegal by league officials.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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