For as long as Ahman Green has been a member of the Green Bay Packers, he's displayed power and speed unlike many others at his position. But judging by Sunday's game versus the Chicago Bears, he may have displayed his most impressive quickness in his speedy recovery from a major injury that occurred nearly a year ago.
For a player who hadn't appeared in a regular season game since Oct. 23, 2005, Green appeared to be as sharp as ever in rushing for 110 yards on 20 carries, good enough for a 5.5-yard average.
Though his team suffered a 26-0 defeat to its fiercest rivals, the organization has to feel good about just how far Green has come from a ruptured right quadriceps tendon, a difficult injury for any player, let alone one who relies on leg strength, quickness, and cut-back ability to make his living.
For Green the game was bittersweet. One on hand, he displayed a sense of relief to be back on the field, but on the other, he got back onto the field and established a bit of a rhythm.
However, he insisted that losing outweighed any individual achievements in his first game back.
"Any way you look at it, we lost," Green said. "Regardless of what I did, or Brett (Favre) did, or Donald (Driver), or any of the offensive players, we couldn't come up with a victory out there and that's the biggest thing."
Coming from Green, who has always been a team-first player, that attitude is not surprising. Still, despite the loss, Green admitted it's good to get back in the swing of things, which includes showing that he still has what it takes to be an elite running back in the NFL.
"I just have to come out here and really prove to myself that I could do this," he explained. "I believe everybody else believed in me and I just wanted to do my job. I wish we would have gotten in the end zone a little bit more to help this team win."
Now the biggest question is whether or not Green will have any setbacks after a grueling game against the Bears' stout defense.
According to the 6-foot, 218-pound back there is no reason to worry about that, either.
"I feel good, there's just going to be the normal soreness of pain and waking up in the morning on the day after the game," he said.
"But to play the whole entire game, I played a lot of different situations, third down, two-minute, and short yardage, and it felt good."
It also felt good to have Green back in the fold for an offense that desperately needs him, and at least one of the men opening holes for Green was impressed with the return of the Packers' second all-time leading rusher.
"I think he played incredible today," tackle Mark Tauscher said. "I think Ahman ran his tail off. To come back from where he was last year to where he is now, I think you can say he's back."
Just as it was evident that his offensive teammates were happy to have him back, Green was also happy to get acclimated to his rebuilt offensive line, which features rookie guards Jason Spitz and Tony Moll.
And though it would be understandable if having such inexperience along the offensive line is unsettling for Green, he begged to differ with that opinion.
"There really was no difference," Green said. "The guys blocked well. I was in those guys' ears all day (giving them confidence). I told them to continue to do what they were doing. For the most part they did their job."
In addition to playing with a few new guys up front, Green insists he isn't concerned about running behind a zone-blocking scheme, which is a change from the power gap scheme he is used to.
"It's not an issue," he explained. "I've been in there a couple weeks, actually more than a couple weeks in training camp and now in a regular season game. And that's all I wanted, to go out there and get the feel of a regular season game, a full-speed game. So, I feel good."
Green's health and how he appears to have bounced back from such a difficult injury were a couple of the bright spots for the Green and Gold on Sunday, but if you ask Green, he will tell you that there is more good news and it's that there is a lot of football left to be played.
"Losing doesn't feel great, but we know it's a long season," he said. "This is game one of 15 more games and we just have to continue to push hard, look at our mistakes tomorrow, and go over what we did wrong. After that, we have to focus on New Orleans and put this game behind us."
It's difficult to argue with that mindset coming from Green. After all, he seems to know a thing or two about what it takes to bounce back from a difficult situation.