In Vernand Morency, Packers General Manager Ted Thompson believes he's acquired a change-of-pace running back who will be a good fit for the offense's zone-blocking scheme.
Morency became a Packer on Wednesday when Thompson traded running back Samkon Gado to the Houston Texans for him.
One of the keys to running behind a zone scheme often mentioned by the Packers offensive coaches is to be decisive, to make one cut and go. Morency appears to be that type of back.
"He's got a quick twitch, he runs hard," Thompson said. "He's been described as a one-cut guy, he doesn't fool around much, and I think he catches the ball very well out of the backfield."
Morency was a third-round draft pick of the Texans in 2005 and played in 13 games for them last year, including one start. He had 46 carries for 184 yards (4.0 avg) and two touchdowns. He added 10 receptions for 87 yards and returned 20 kickoffs for a 21.9-yard average.
He also played in the Texans' season opener last week as a reserve, recording five carries for 13 yards and one catch for 6 yards.
At age 26, Morency is older than most second-year players because he spent four years in the Colorado Rockies' minor league system as a center fielder before playing college football at Oklahoma State, where he racked up 451 carries for 2,661 yards (5.9 avg) and 23 TDs. He declared for the NFL Draft after his junior season.
His size - 5-foot-10 and 212 pounds - makes him an intriguing prospect because he's two inches shorter but weighs almost as much as Ahman Green, who's 6-0 and 218.
"He's packed in there pretty good," Thompson said. "He'll look like a running back when you see him."
In order to acquire him, the Packers had to part with Gado, also a second-year back who came out of nowhere to be the feel-good story of the 2005 season.
Undrafted out of Liberty, Gado stepped in at the injury-riddled tailback position at midseason to lead the Packers in rushing with 582 yards. He scored three touchdowns in his first NFL start at Atlanta and set a Green Bay rookie rushing record with 171 yards against Detroit.
"Green Bay needless to say will always have a special place in my heart, always," Gado said just after learning of the trade. "I did not want to leave. I wanted to stay here as long as I could because I love the community and I love the organization. But obviously this is a business decision that needed to be made."
Gado's contributions were perhaps the brightest moments of the Packers' frustrating 4-12 season.
"We threw him right into the fire last year and he was outstanding," Thompson said. "He probably wasn't as productive here in the preseason as he would have liked to have been, but this trade wasn't about that. We were just looking a little more for a change-of-pace guy.
"I think Houston was looking for a little different kind of back, more of a power back like obviously Sam can be."
With the release of fullback Vonta Leach on Tuesday and the trade of Gado Wednesday, the Packers are essentially down to three running backs - Green, Noah Herron and William Henderson - until Morency is prepared enough to play. But Thompson said the coaching staff feels Herron's versatility in the backfield should help bridge the gap through Sunday's game.
Thompson also said the two significant roster moves this week (the signing of receiver Koren Robinson being the other) were not done simply in reaction to the shutout loss to Chicago in last Sunday's season opener. Both were moves that were in the works before that first game.
"Obviously we're disappointed we didn't play better on Sunday, but we try not to be reactionary or anything like that," Thompson said. "Obviously if you see something that's staring you in the face and you say we're not good enough at this, you try to do something about it. But that's not what this is about. We anticipated probably through the first couple weeks having a little changeover in our roster.
"We will continue to push the envelope in terms of trying to put the best 53 on our team."