Notebook: Grant Getting Over The Hump

It appears running back Ryan Grant may finally be putting his hamstring injury behind him. Grant, who is not on the injury report this week for the first time all season, was a full participant in practice for the second straight day Thursday, the first time he has handled full duty back-to-back days in 2008. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Sept. 25

It appears running back Ryan Grant may finally be putting his hamstring injury behind him.

Grant, who is not on the injury report this week for the first time all season, was a full participant in practice for the second straight day Thursday, the first time he has handled full duty back-to-back days in 2008. Having injured his hamstring shortly after signing a long-term contract one week into training camp, Grant has been either out, limited in his practice work, and/or not going full speed with the ball in his hand during games.

"This is the best I've felt, definitely," Grant said after a full-pads practice on Thursday. "I told some of the guys I don't feel it, and I don't think about it at practice. I actually came out of practice today saying there were some runs where I tried to get a little more."

That's a change from the norm, which has been Grant holding back a bit, even as he's carried the ball 40 times in the first three games. He has 166 yards thus far, an average of 4.15 yards per rush.

"Initially when I would practice, it was really kind of frustrating just because the coaches would tell me, and they tell me today, to manage it, they don't really want me opening it up," Grant said. "So I feel like I'm not really opening up on some of my runs, but I'm able to move a little more and react a little faster, where before it felt like I was kind of all at the same speed."

Grant can feel himself getting over some of the mental hurdles that come with a nagging injury, too. On Wednesday in practice, he described how he went in motion out of the backfield and ran a go route, and he had to find his extra gear in order to make the catch. Running backs coach Edgar Bennett still cautioned him against turning loose like that, but Grant said it was a good next step.

"They still want me to be smart in practice, but I do feel more comfortable," he said. "The fact that naturally my mind just took me there and I was able to do it, that was a good thing."

Grant has carried the ball 12, 15 and 13 times in the first three games, but he said if the game plan Sunday at Tampa Bay calls for him to rush 20 or 25 times, he's ready for it. His health takes on even greater importance this week with No. 3 halfback Kregg Lumpkin missing practice due to a hamstring injury.

"I've got a good amount of reps and I'm feeling good," Grant said. "I'm not feeling sore afterwards, not feeling like I wore down. Each week is progress and I'm excited with how I feel today."

If Lumpkin is unavailable, that would leave Grant and second-year pro Brandon Jackson as the only halfbacks on the active 45-man gameday roster. Head Coach Mike McCarthy said fullback John Kuhn, who was a primary ballcarrier out of a one-back set in college at Shippensburg, would step in as the primary back in an emergency on Sunday.

"It's encouraging to see Ryan Grant out there taking all his reps," McCarthy said. "I think he's put together two solid practices. He needs reps just like everybody else. It's been great to have him healthy and feeling good the next day."

Key point differential

Much like during the team's strong start a year ago, the Packers are once again not only winning the turnover battle, but also significantly outscoring their opponents in points off turnovers.

Through three games, the Packers have turned six takeaways (5 interceptions, 1 fumble) into 31 points while allowing their opponents to convert two giveaways (both fumbles) into just six points.

Fourteen of the Packers' points off turnovers came on two interceptions run back for scores in Detroit, skewing the statistic somewhat. But more importantly, only one of Green Bay's six takeaways has not resulted in points, and that was Atari Bigby's interception at the end of the season opener against Minnesota that was followed by two kneel-downs by the offense.

The other 17 points were a touchdown set up by Charles Woodson's first interception in Detroit, a field goal following Nick Collins' interception and long return against Dallas, and a touchdown following Will Blackmon's strip and recovery against Dallas.

Meanwhile, the opponents' points off turnovers have been one field goal each by Detroit and Dallas. Most significant there is that both giveaways provided the opponent with prime field position, but the defense didn't even allow a first down.

In Detroit, quarterback Aaron Rodgers' fumble was recovered by the Lions at the Green Bay 30, but a sack pushed Detroit back 5 yards and the Lions settled for a 53-yard field goal. Against Dallas, a fumble by Grant on the game's opening series gave the Cowboys the ball in the red zone, at the Green Bay 14. But the defense held Dallas to just 7 yards in three plays, leading to a short field goal.

{sportsad300}Still in flux

Safety Aaron Rouse, who would start his second straight game if Bigby's hamstring isn't sufficiently healed by Sunday, was a full participant in practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday because of a sore knee.

Bigby has missed both days of practice this week but was doing rehab inside the Don Hutson Center on Thursday and is expected to test his hamstring on Friday to see if he might be available this weekend.

"He went inside today and wanted to push it," McCarthy said. "So we'll see how he feels, how he responds from this workout, and then we'll go from there. There is definitely a sense of urgency with Atari. He wants to get back out there."

Collins, the other starting safety, remained limited in practice with a sore back. Charlie Peprah and Jarrett Bush are continuing to prepare in case Collins has to sit out.

More on injuries

In addition to Bigby and Lumpkin, fullback Korey Hall (knee) and cornerback Charles Woodson (toe) missed practice for the second straight day. Tackle Chad Clifton (knees) and receiver James Jones (knee) remained limited, while rookie guard Josh Sitton (knee) was a full participant.

Sitton, who originally injured his knee in the third preseason game at Denver, has a chance to be active on gameday for the first time, according to McCarthy.

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