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Grant Getting Closer, Preparing For Full-Strength Return

Running back Ryan Grant has not been medically cleared to practice yet, but he's getting closer by the day.

And when he does return from his hamstring strain, Grant says he'll be in great shape to handle the workload he'll be expected to take on this season.

"I'm right there," Grant said. "I'm with the coaches, with the training staff, doing everything they're telling me to do, probably a little more, pushing myself. I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure I'm prepared."

Grant, who missed the first week of training camp while his new contract was getting worked out, practiced for two days on Aug. 5 and 6 (three workouts total) before straining the hamstring.

He was back on the field Monday night in full pads for the early jog-through portion of practice, taking a few reps with the No. 1 offense, before he headed into the Don Hutson Center for his rehab work.

But in his rehab he's not "nursing" the injury by any means. He's truly testing it, doing extensive running and conditioning work to build up his endurance, particularly in his legs, to guard against any setbacks with the hamstring when he is cleared for full contact.

"I'm doing a lot," Grant said. "I don't want to say more than I do at practice, but it is a lot of individual work, a lot of work to make sure my leg is not getting fatigued, make sure conditioning-wise it's strong, I can do different drills and everything. I'm hitting bags and doing a lot of running and cutting, and getting low and getting hit when I'm getting low, having to change direction, make sure it can take that fast change of direction.

"That's why I come out (of the Hutson Center) sweating so hard. It's a lot of work."

The Packers plan to give Grant plenty of work when the season starts. The surprise offensive star of 2007, Grant emerged as the team's feature back in Week 8 at Denver and carried 20 or more times in five different contests.

That's a workload he may have on a weekly basis in 2008, so even though he admits he's a tad frustrated he hasn't been given clearance to practice yet despite feeling strong enough to do so, he understands the medical situation, especially given the potentially nagging context of hamstring problems.

"It wasn't bad," Grant said of the injury. "I didn't pull it or anything like that. I felt it tighten up, but it's not severe.

"I'm feeling good, and I know they're being careful with me. The biggest thing is to make sure I don't feel it at any point and it's not a recurring thing."

Given that, Grant may not have a chance to revisit INVESCO Field at Mile High in Denver this week, the site of his breakout performance off the bench on Monday Night Football last October.

"All the guys that are out tested better today than they did last week, so that's a positive," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "But he's not ready to go to practice. Once he can complete the medical test, then I'll practice him. I was hopeful he could go this week, but he's not quite ready."

{sportsad300}Another player at that same stage, McCarthy said, is defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who has been out with a knee injury after having arthroscopic surgery in the offseason.

The good news on the injury front, and for the Grant-less offense in particular, was the return of receivers Greg Jennings and Ruvell Martin on Monday night. Jennings has missed the first two preseason games with a sore knee, while Martin missed last Saturday's game after taking a vicious hit to the head from a Cincinnati defender in the preseason opener.

Both receivers practiced in full pads and at full speed on Monday, making their share of catches on slants and stop routes and showing no ill effects from their injuries.

Grant expects to pick up where he left off as well, and even though he's had very limited practice time in camp on top of missing the spring OTAs because of his contract, he doesn't believe the injury has set him back as far as being ready for the regular season.

"I don't think so," he said. "I feel good, I feel comfortable. When I was working, I felt like I was in a groove. You talk to the coaches, talk to the other players, I felt like I was in a groove, I don't feel like I missed a step. When I get it, I want to be able to turn that switch on."

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