In a turn of events that seemed to come in slightly below the radar, James Starks is out and Ryan Grant returns. Tuesday news surfaced that James Starks suffered a season ending knee injury in the Sunday’s game against the Vikings. Wednesday morning ESPN Milwaukee broke the story that Ryan Grant is returning to Green Bay.
James Starks going down just as he was beginning to get going is disappointing. Starks and Alex Green proved to be a decent one – two punch against the Vikings on Sunday gaining 124 yards on 27 carries collectively. It seemed the Packers ground game was moving in the right direction. But for the Packers and Starks this is just another injury to add to an already long list.
The move to bring back Ryan Grant is pragmatic if nothing else. Grant knows the offense having played for the Packers from 2007-’11 gaining over 4000 yards during his previous tenure with green and gold. Last season Grant split time with James Starks and rushed for 559 yards on 134 carries for a 4.4 yard average. Bringing back Ryan Grant the Packers know they have someone they can plug in and he can hit the ground running… well that’s the hope anyways.
Grant turns 30 this Sunday, an age that in many cases is the point of no return for an NFL running back. With the exception of a cup of coffee he had with the Washington Redskins in which he carried the ball once for 5 yards in 3 games Grant has been out of the game all season long. Provided he has kept himself in shape, if nothing else he should have fresh legs going into the playoff run.
The Packers opted not to re-sign Grant for the 2012 season. It may have been that his asking price was too high for a 29 year old running back, or the Packers may have simply felt his skills were diminishing. Grant worked out for a number of teams including the Bears, Lions, Patriots, and Redskins as previously mentioned but was not able to find a permanent home this season. He’s been called a one cut back and maybe he’s lost a step. But in week 14 there are not a lot of Adrian Petersons on the waiver wire.
With all that said, Grant may have a little left in the tank. Not to mention he does have a little unfinished business in Green Bay that may fuel his fire. In 2010 Grant was on injured reserve for the Super Bowl run. He did get a ring, however he would probably admit that it would have been more rewarding had he been on the field. Grant also had a deflating fumble in last year’s first round playoff loss to the Giants that set up a touchdown score that all but put the game out of reach. Ryan Grant would most likely want to conclude his Packer story differently.
For now it’s a game of wait and see. With the playoff push in full swing the Packers hope that Ryan Grant in tandem with Alex Green can give them the firepower in the backfield they need to make a Super Bowl run. Time will tell, but the addition of Grant seems like a good fix for a desperate situation.