Rookie steps in, now must step up

Ahmad Carroll

Rookie cornerback Ahmad Carroll will make his first NFL start Sunday vs. the Lions at Ford Field. If the youngster passes this crucial test, he'll give the Packers a badly-needed boost.<P>

Green Bay coach/GM Mike Sherman announced Friday that Carroll would get the nod. He'll start in place of the Michael Hawthorne at left cornerback.

Carroll, the team's first-round draft pick out of Arkansas, did have one pre-season start at that position. After Carroll missed the games vs. the Colts and Giants with a groin injury suffered in practice, he was back in action in Monday's loss to Tennessee. Initially expected to play only inthe dime package, injuries forced the team to use Carroll in all but the first defensive series.

While that wasn't an ideal situation, it takes the edge off the rookie's first pro start.

"I'm not really nervous," Carroll told reporters Friday. "I have to be patient and not try to force things, (but) I've got to go right in and make an impact, get interceptions and make big plays."

Carroll has his work cut out for him. The Green Bay defense is still reeling from their Monday night embarrassment and shoulders much of the blame for the team's poor start. They'll have to turn it around quick as they face a surprisingly strong Detroit team. The 5-10 rookie will have to measure up to Detroit pair of 6-3 receivers, Tai Streets and Roy Williams.

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