How happy are the Packers to see the return of running back Ryan Grant?
"He walked into the gym
walk-through this morning after completing his business and got a standing
ovation," Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday. "So I think that tells you what the locker
room thinks of him."
Grant returns after spending a a short time on the Redskins roster, and following a number of tryouts that didn't lead to him joining another team.
Green Bay has decided against bringing
back its 5th all-time leading rusher multiple times including this offseason. They could have re-signed him after he showed
improvement down the stretch in 2011 or as free agent after injuries to Cedric
Benson and James Starks earlier this season.
It took another injury to Starks, a knee injury that could keep him out for "weeks" according to McCarthy, for Grant to finally get another shot with Green Bay. He says he doesn't hold any hard feelings about the situation.
"That's the business aspect of it," Grant said to a large group of reporters in the locker room Wednesday. "I came into this league understanding the business aspect of it. I don't want to say that made things easier, but at the same time it made me understand some of the things. I don't take things personal. I didn't come back here for a feel-good story; I came here to help this team and contribute."
Grant returns for Week 14, a year after he had the best game of the 2011 season Week 14 at Lambeau Field against the Oakland Raiders. In that game, Grant carried the ball 10 times for 85 yards, and scoring his only two rushing touchdowns of the year. Grant averaged 5.9 yards per carry the last four games of the season, and just 3.4 in the other 14 games. Green Bay is hoping they get the Grant that was a game-changer at times late last season.
"We've won a lot of games together, and he's been a part of a lot of big victories," Packers QB Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday. "He's as tough as they come. He runs as hard as anybody, especially in the Winter months. He's made some big plays for us over the years, so it's good to have him back and just his presence in the locker room alone is fun."
While Grant will be eased back in after only having one official carry this season, his familarity with the offense is an obvious benefit to the team.
"Ryan has a great history with us, can kind of step right in," McCarthy said. "I don't see him having any issues getting ready."
Grant says has enjoyed watching his alma mater Notre Dame go undefeated and earn a trip to the BCS National Championship game, but overall says he can't stand being a spectator and watching football. So naturally Grant is out to prove he has plenty left and not ready to be sent to the sidelines for good.
"Of course, but that's not necessarily toward the Packers," said Grant. "That's just because of football. I think any football player that hasn't played football, the minute they have a chance to play football, they have a chip on their shoulder."
He knows now as well as anyone, this is a week to week business, but Grant says his return was good timing in at least one way.
"I do turn 30 on Sunday," Grant said with a half-smile. "As of right now it looks like a pretty good birthday gift."