The Packers finally re-signed Ryan Grant, but only after losing a third running back to injury. You can’t blame GM Ted Thompson for not wanting to bring back the fifth-leading rusher in team history. After all, Grant turns 30 in a few days and he hasn’t had a truly productive season since 2009. It was clearly time to move on. But now, with James Starks joining Cedric Benson and Brandon Saine in the running back wing of the infirmary, it’s clearly time to go back. And believe it or not, I’m kind of excited to see what happens next.
Grant doesn’t have much life left in his legs, but the Packers aren’t asking him to run a marathon. He just needs to be able to run the final few miles. The former Notre Dame standout keeps himself in great condition and he possesses the one thing that gives him a fighting chance against younger and faster defenders – fresh legs. Grant has played in only 1 game this season, and that was nearly eight weeks ago.
Alex Green will be the No. 1 running back on Sunday, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him relinquish that role (again) in the very near future. It’s easy to forget that Grant ran for 276 yards in the final five games of last season, and he averaged a healthy 5.5 yards per carry. That’s over 2 yards per carry better than what Green’s been able to accomplish through the first 12 games of this season. Cynics argued that Grant’s success came against defenses that didn’t give a crap about stopping the run. Those cynics were 100 percent right. But guess what, defenses still don’t give a crap about stopping the run.
Grant no longer has the power or the speed to be his own blocker or to pull away from DBs in the open field, but he still has the vision and the patience to hit holes as they open (or at least he did 10 months ago). While that may not sound like much, it’s something Green has struggled with all season. Look, I’m not saying Grant will have the same impact down the stretch this season that Starks had two years ago, but you never know. I honestly think this move has a chance to pay off. Just how much remains to be seen.