Grant Pounds His Way To Career Day

The Packers may have had their troubles rushing the football earlier in the season, but with each Ryan Grant run, memories of those struggles are fading faster and faster. Despite not taking over as the starter until Week 9, he’s just 256 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Raiders Game Center


The Packers may have had their troubles rushing the football earlier in the season, but with each Ryan Grant run, memories of those struggles are fading faster and faster.

And while Grant may not be a household name quite yet, he's not a secret anymore either.

Entering Sunday's game, Grant had 588 yards and four touchdowns, not bad statistics by any means, but nothing really earth-shattering. Yet, it's not until you really take a look inside the numbers that you get a feel for how well Grant has performed lately.

For instance, counting Sunday's career-high 156-yard rushing effort, Grant now has gone over the century mark four times in his last seven games and in that same span he finished two other games with 88 and 94 yards rushing. Despite not taking over as the starter until Week 9, he's just 256 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season.

Grant, a 6-foot-1, 224-pound bruiser, has been what General Manager Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy thought he would be when they acquired him in a preseason trade from the New York Giants for a draft pick.

Perhaps Grant's best attribute is his versatility. In addition to pounding the ball between the tackles, he can also bounce outside and get up the sideline in a hurry and as his 27 receptions on the year can attest, he is a good receiver out of the backfield as well. Not to mention that he's humble, too.

When asked what has made the biggest difference in the running game between the beginning of the season and now, Grant gave credit to pretty much everyone but himself.

"We're consistent," Grant said. "We're playing fundamentally sound. Guys are hungry, guys want it. We're playing good football and executing. We have a great game plan every week and we feel like if we execute and play our game, good things will happen.

"Today, the line did a good job, the fullback, everyone up front did a hell of a job. That made it easy."

Though right tackle Mark Tauscher agreed with Grant's assessment, he admits that the run game has taken off ever since Grant stepped into a starting role nearly two months ago.

"I think there's a lot of things," right tackle Mark Tauscher said. "Obviously, you have to start with Ryan. There's definitely (more than) a coincidence that once he stepped in, things have picked up. But I think everybody's gaining confidence in it, it's getting called more, and we're executing a lot better. There's a lot of things that go into it. It's not just one thing or one guy, it's an entire unit. But we're definitely having a lot more fun doing it."

According to Tauscher, many people may not have known it earlier, but there's no question Grant has given the entire offense a boost.

"I just think he's a real talented guy," Tauscher said. "He brings a lot to the table. He had a couple of big runs after contact today. He sees the hole and I think he's gaining confidence.

"As a unit blocking up front, we feed off of that and we feed off of the positive results we're getting. That's something at the beginning of the year we weren't getting."

Center Scott Wells said it also doesn't hurt that the offensive line is carrying out their assignments better than they previously had as well.

"At the beginning of the year, we had guys that were one step off the block," Wells explained. "Now we seem to be getting it right. The running backs seem to be comfortable hitting the holes, finding their cuts and going through the progression of reading where the lineman's cuts are. So, I think we're just executing better."

{sportsad300}Whatever the secret, whether it's Grant, the offensive line or the game plan, one thing is clear: everybody inside the Packers locker room is happier when the run game succeeds, especially McCarthy.

"I can't say enough about Ryan Grant," McCarthy said in his post-game press conference. "I think he's really coming into his own. You can see the comfort level he has in the scheme. He's doing a great job when he gets to the second level breaking tackles.

"We're very pleased with the run-blocking unit. We're getting better. I thought our guard play was solid. We still have some things to continue to work on, but I was proud of the way we ran the ball today."

Another guy that is very pleased with the rushing game is Brett Favre. Though he's demonstrated several times in his career that he can throw the ball all over the lot if he has to, he still would prefer to have a balanced attack on offense.

With 266 yards passing and 179 yards on the ground Sunday, the offense showed just how good it can be, especially with Grant capable of carrying a more significant load if necessary.

"Ryan has progressively gotten better and found his place on this team obviously," Favre said. "We needed to run the ball and kind of pick our spots throwing it. Some runs he outran people, there were some where he got popped pretty good. He ran over some guys, made some guys miss. He was impressive.

"I think he's legit. He really can play. I like his attitude, his character. I think he's only going to get better and barring some crazy injury, I think he can be a really good player."

High praise from your star quarterback, a career day rushing, clinching the NFC North -- those feats seem awfully difficult to top. But making it even better is the fact that it all came on Grant's 25th birthday.

It makes you wonder what's left to wish for when he blows out the candles on his birthday cake.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content