Packers running back Ryan Grant is set to hit the open market and, in my opinion, likely won’t return to Green Bay. Once Grant signs elsewhere, get ready for a segment of Packers fans to start clamoring for Ted Thompson to sign or draft Grant’s replacement.
If a RB high on Thompson’s draft board is out there, he very well could draft him, but don’t expect Thompson to reach for a RB based on a perceived need. And if you’re holding your breath that Thompson will sign a name free agent RB or trade for one, exhale now. If a RB comes to the Packers from a different team, it’ll be a guy that nobody has heard of, like Grant was.
Don’t be surprised if Thompson rolls with the RBs currently on the roster. If he chooses that route, it shouldn’t worry Packers fans at all.
James Starks had a disappointing and injury-filled 2011, but he showed he had the talent to be a competent every-down back if he can stay on the field. Hopefully a full offseason builds Starks’s endurance and makes him a stronger player. It’d be nice if he learned to be a little more decisive, too.
Brandon Saine’s main job was catching swing/screen passes, building a head of steam, and plowing forward after initial contact. The undrafted rookie seems versatile and able to do a variety of things out of the backfield, sort of like Grant. We know way too little about Saine to declare him anything but a longshot, but with some seasoning in pass protection, I could see him as a third-down back.
Alex Green blew out his knee halfway through the season and likely will start slowly in 2012, maybe even on the physically unable to perform list. Before the injury, Green didn’t get many opportunities. The Packers seemed to envision Green as the type of all-around back they target: Someone that won’t blow you away, but is able to do everything you ask him to do at a mostly competent level. Green will be a wild card in 2012. If healthy, he should improve later in the season.
By now, we all know what we’re getting with John Kuhn. He blocks, he catches, and every now and then, he plows into the end zone. It’ll be interesting to see if the Packers stick TEs Tom Crabtree or D.J.Williams in the backfield as a fullback at all this season.
Does that list of RBs blow you away? Is it full of potential 1,400-yard rushers? No. But the Packers don’t need that. They won 15 games last season with a running game that never hit it’s stride.
The key to the Packers running game will be the offensive line. Thanks to injuries, the line never got rolling last season. If Bryan Bulaga moves to the left side and the Packers find a more powerful blocker to replace Scott Wells at center (if it comes to that), the line — if healthy — might actually improve in the running game.
Mike McCarthy has already said the Packers will be a little more creative running the football this season.
Sure, it’d be nice to have Adrian Peterson or some college stud that wowed everybody with highlight-reel runs on SportsCenter. But you don’t need that to succeed in today’s NFL. You’re better off focusing your resources elsewhere and trying to find good value at RB.
I’m sure Thompson will bring in at least one more RB through the draft or off the scrap heap of another team. That’s what the Packers have done under Thompson and McCarthy and I don’t expect it to change any time soon.——————
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .