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Not Ready To Quit, Green Thrilled To Be Back With Packers

Ahman Green’s last two seasons, both with the Houston Texans, ended with knee injuries that landed him on injured reserve. With 11 pro seasons under his belt and a slew of impressive accomplishments, Green could have simply faded into the background and gotten on with his post-football life. But that didn’t feel right. - More Press Release: Green Signed, Wynn To I.R.

Ahman Green's last two seasons, both with the Houston Texans, ended with knee injuries that landed him on injured reserve.

With 11 pro seasons under his belt and a slew of impressive accomplishments, Green could have simply faded into the background and gotten on with his post-football life. But that didn't feel right, and Green just wasn't willing to let his NFL career come to a close like that.

So, upon being released by Houston in February, he worked diligently to rehab his latest knee injury and hoped he'd get a call from someone in need of a running back.

For Green, it couldn't have worked out better that the call came from the Packers, who signed him on Wednesday to bolster their running-back depth when DeShawn Wynn was placed on injured reserve following morning knee surgery. Green became one of the most prolific running backs in Green Bay history from 2000 to 2006, and he's thrilled to be back, even if it's in a lesser role than when he left.

"It's just one of those things," Green said of deciding to come back and play again. "If I knew I was done with this sport, there would have been no debating, no arguing, no mulling over it, no thinking about it. I probably would have come here, signed a one-day contract to retire as a Packer and called it quits.

"But something was missing after these past two years, that I didn't quite want to finish that way, the way my career was in Houston, and I didn't want that to basically become my legacy, finishing that way. Because I had a great run here, and I wanted to finish that in terms of my way, but also the man upstairs' way, to finish it in a good way, the best way I can."

Green was on the field for Wednesday's practice, playing scout-team defense in the opening jog-through portion and taking a few reps during individual and group drills. He admitted he's easing into it and, much like veteran offensive lineman Mark Tauscher (who signed with the Packers last week), he's working on getting back into football shape, with a target of being ready for game action in a couple of weeks.

To the eye, Green is in impressive physical condition. He felt his knee injury last season in Houston, which occurred in late November, wasn't serious enough to shut him down for the rest of the season, but the team disagreed. Either way, it didn't require surgery so he's been able to keep himself in shape, and he made a good first impression in limited work on Wednesday.

"He still has excellent in-line quickness," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "He really has the ability to drop his pads and run with forward lean and the things you always liked about his running style. He showed a little burst out there today. Once again, I'd like to see more of him."

Once Green is ready to play in a game, he'll join Brandon Jackson as a backup to Ryan Grant. Accustomed to being a feature back for much of his career, Green insisted he's fine with whatever role the coaching staff envisions for him, having said so to Grant, running backs coach Edgar Bennett and McCarthy.

"I'm here to help these guys, help the running backs, help this team as a whole just with my leadership, and help the running backs wherever they need help," he said. "If I have to help on special teams or return kicks, that's no problem for me. I'll come in here and just kind of be that guy I've always been, but now a secondary role, which I have no problem with."

Grant has no problem either with what could appear on the surface to be an uncomfortable situation, a former franchise great looking over his shoulder. But even though he hasn't been a teammate of Green's before, Grant said the two have talked football together at times over the past couple of years and he sees that relationship continuing.

"Any way he can help, anything he brings to the table, I'm going to pick his brain," Grant said. "He'll probably pick my brain on certain things on how we've been doing certain things. I'm excited about it, and whatever I can do to help bring him along, I'm for."

When Green does take the field again for the Packers, he'll do so on the verge of a hallowed team record. With 8,162 rushing yards in his seven previous seasons in Green Bay, he's just 46 yards shy of breaking Jim Taylor's all-time franchise mark of 8,207.

Already the franchise record-holder in total yards from scrimmage (10,870) and 1,000-yard rushing seasons (six), as well as pass receptions and receiving yards for a running back (347 for 2,708), Green had a chance to break Taylor's rushing mark by the end of 2006.

But he averaged just 67 yards per game over the final four contests that year, and then signed a free-agent contract with Houston in March of 2007.

"It would be pretty cool if we could get him those 46 yards," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "But just to have a veteran leader in here is really going to help us out, help Ryan out and Brandon out as well.

"He's very impressive, and if anybody can get up to speed quickly, it's Ahman."

The additions of Green and Tauscher over the past two weeks lend a couple of hefty doses of experience to a team that began the 2009 season as the youngest in the NFL for the fourth straight year.

{sportsad300}How quickly either can play or how productive either can be remain open questions for now, but other veterans on the roster appreciate the depth players like Green and Tauscher provide.

Cornerback Charles Woodson, who expressed after last season that he'd like to see more veteran players brought in, believes acquisitions like this can make a difference because they're in tune with not only what it takes to succeed in the NFL but with how small the window of opportunity for success can be.

"These guys, they know how to approach the game, they've been through the fire a little bit," Woodson said. "'Tausch' has been on the outside looking in a little bit until he got signed. Ahman's been outside looking in. They get it. A lot of young guys come in and they don't understand what you have to go through at times in this league.

"I understand coming from Oakland. You bring guys in here you know are going to be hungry, guys that are going to work tirelessly to make this team better. I'm happy to have those guys on the team."

The biggest difference with Green on his first day back was his jersey number. With his former number, 30, taken by fullback John Kuhn, Green is wearing No. 34 in honor of one of his heroes, former Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton. It's the number Green wore in high school before changing to No. 30 in college at Nebraska, through no control of his own.

"I didn't even ask for 30, they gave it to me, so it kind of stuck with me," Green said. "To finish with 34 would kind of be an ironic thing because that's one of my favorite guys on the football field."

And Green is once again with his favorite team.

"I'm glad to be back home," he said. "The camaraderie I built with the guys here, when I walked back in here on Monday just for my workout, I could see it and feel it, and it's been a great feeling."

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