The Green Bay Packers brought back an old friend this week, resigning running back Ryan Grant to help out their ailing backfield. Grant played with the Packers from 2007-2011.
I, for one, am super excited to have Grant back. His last couple of seasons with the Pack weren’t the best and fans were lukewarm-to-apathetic when Green Bay chose not to resign him in the offseason. They’re singing a different tune now that they’ve had to endure an offseason with no real clear starting running back, the high of signing Cedric Benson, the low of his injury, the lower low of James Starks and Alex Green failing to produce serious yards, the false hope of Benson’s return and then the bummer of his being placed on the injured reserve.
Let’s take a little review of Ryan Grant’s career up until this point:
Grant played college football for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, which earns him a special place in my heart for playing for my favorite college team and my favorite NFL team. Grant spent most of his time at Notre Dame splitting carries with other backs, finishing his career there with mediocre 2,220 yards and 18 touchdowns.
He went undrafted in 2005, but was signed to the New York Giants’ practice squad. 2006 saw Grant spend the entire season on the injured reserve. While at a nightclub, Grant was bumped and, catching himself, put his left arm through a whole lot of champagne glasses, which could have cost him his life as the accident severed an artery, tendon and nerve in his arm. Doctors initially doubted if he would ever regain the use of his arm.
Thankfully, Ryan recovered and, in 2007, was traded to the Packers. He started off as third-string, but his performance in relief of Green Bay’s injured starter halfway through the 2007 season earned him the starting job. He rushed for 929 yards in the final 10 games of the season.
Any Packer fan, however, remembers Grant for one game: the 2007 divisional playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks.
It was January in Green Bay and it was snowing like crazy, one of those games where they had to stop to shovel the yard markers.
The Packers started the game with the ball, and on the very first play, Grant fumbled. The Seahawks scored a touchdown on the next play. The next series, Grant fumbled again. The guy who had fumbled once all season long fumbled twice in the first 70 seconds of a playoff game. The Seahawks would score off the second fumble as well – 14-0 in the first five minutes.
Give credit to coach Mike McCarthy because he didn’t bench Grant and it’s a good thing he didn’t – he would then run for 201 yards and three touchdowns on the day. Those are still his career highs and Green Bay postseason records.
Grant spent the next two season quietly posting consistent numbers – 1,200+ yards in both 2008 and 2009. A season-ending ankle injury in the 2010 season opener left Grant to watch his teammates roll onto the Super Bowl without him. 2011 was not the comeback he was hoping for as he finished with just 559 yards and three touchdowns.
Approaching 30–a deadly age for a running back–and wanting a long-term contract, Grant was not resigned by the Packers and received no offers from other teams during this past offseason. In September, he was picked up by the Washington Redskins, but his time there was not fruitful – he had only one carry for five yards before he was released a month after he signed.
When Starks suffered a knee injury in last week’s victory over the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay acted quickly to pick up Grant, who is said to be in great shape and ready to go. As Grant told Green Bay reporters this week, he’s not here to be a “feel-good story.” He’s here to help the team win. McCarthy has said Grant will be limited in this week’s game against the Detroit Lions as he gets back up to speed, but I have high hopes for our old friend.