CINCINNATI - Running back Ahman Green's return to action Monday night didn't solve the Packers' struggles with their ground game, but afterwards Green wasn't concerned with his less-than-stellar statistics.
Green had just 18 yards on eight carries in the first half, playing in his first game since rupturing a quadriceps tendon last October in Minnesota. Numbers aside, it was getting some game action that mattered most, and there were no setbacks with regards to his leg.
"I feel good, definitely getting the rust knocked off, and that's all I wanted," said Green, who may not play much if at all on Friday against Tennessee. "It's another step forward in getting ready for Chicago."
Green's longest run was 8 yards up the middle, but with just 10 yards on his other seven attempts, he clearly never found a rhythm or much running room.
He slipped and fell on one attempt and recovered his own fumble on another, two of his three rushes for no gain. Green also failed to catch a pass from Brett Favre in the flat when he didn't turn his head soon enough coming out of the backfield.
"I wanted to go out there and get banged around, get back into flow of the game," he said. "It's all about getting my timing, getting through all the motions again."
For the game, the Packers had just 101 yards rushing on 36 attempts, showing a commitment to the run but never establishing any consistency with it.
Noah Herron led the backs with 27 yards rushing on eight attempts. Najeh Davenport had the Packers' longest run, 12 yards, but had just 9 yards on his other four rushes. Samkon Gado got the most carries, with 10, but had just 23 yards.
"It's a collective effort," Gado said. "When we as a unit don't play well, it's tough for us at individual positions to put up the numbers we need to."
Special teams mostly solid
Kicker Dave Rayner and punt returner Greg Jennings were two bright spots for the Packers on special teams.
Rayner hit his lone field goal attempt, from 30 yards, and had two strong kickoffs. To open the second half, Rayner's kickoff went 2 yards deep into the end zone. His next attempt came down at the 2-yard line and was well covered, stopping the Bengals inside the 20.
Rayner's last kickoff, after a weather delay, was his worst, coming down at the 9-yard line.
Jennings had a 27-yard punt return around right end in the third quarter, giving the Packers a first down at the Cincinnati 39, but the offense wasn't able to capitalize.
"I would say he's not a surprise anymore," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said of Jennings, who also caught three passes for 40 yards. "That's the way he played since he showed up in the spring. He's a very smooth football player. He's a guy that makes plays every game."
The Packers had planned to use Charles Woodson on punt returns, but the defense did not force a punt in the first half. Jennings, a rookie second-round draft pick, called for a fair catch on his first punt return in the third quarter.
Punter Jon Ryan was inconsistent but recovered from a poor first punt to have a solid night overall, averaging 44.8 yards on four punts.
His first effort was a low 33-yarder made even less effective when long snapper Rob Davis was called for holding. Ryan rebounded with a high hanging punt that went for just 35 yards but pinned the Bengals on their own 10-yard line in the second quarter, and he hit punts of 51 and 60 yards on his last two attempts. After the returns, both of those went for a net of 46 yards.
Return home for Hawk
An Ohio native and Ohio State alum, linebacker A.J. Hawk was back in his home state for the first time as a professional football player.
Hawk was mostly a presence in the run game, finishing third on the team with four total tackles (two solo). Three of them came on the Bengals' opening drive of the second half, the first time the Packers forced them to punt.
Hawk said one of the adjustments from college to the pros was playing preseason games, which are easier to forget about.
"We're definitely not going to sit here and dwell on this," Hawk said. "We're going to take the positives we can because we have a quick turnaround for the game Friday and make sure we get everything cleaned up."
Ups and downs
Fighting for a roster spot after missing several training camp practices with a balky knee, second-year cornerback Mike Hawkins appeared to show the necessary speed to maintain one-on-one coverage.
On two plays in the first half, Hawkins stuck right with Antonio Chatman and T.J. Houshmandzadeh on sideline deep routes, leading to two of Carson Palmer's five incompletions.
The two plays were just three snaps apart, and Hawkins appeared tired after the second one and looked to the sideline to be replaced, but stayed in the game.
"I was winded, but those are times you have to fight through those things," he said. "That sometimes separates the rookies from the veterans. The veterans learn how to stay in there and get through it. I'm still going and still learning, I can't do anything but get better as long as I keep working hard."
Hawkins was frustrated when he was beaten for a touchdown later in the game, though. He did say his knee seemed to hold up fine, and he plans to be ready for Friday's game despite the short rest.
"Ain't got no choice," Hawkins said. "I'm trying to make the team. There ain't no time for sitting down no more. I have to step up and play."
With 9:09 left in the fourth quarter, the game was suspended due to lightning with the Packers facing first-and-goal from the Bengals' 3. The game resumed 40 minutes later, and the Packers needed three plays to score on a 2-yard TD run by Gado.
Coincidentally, three years ago to the day the Packers had a weather delay in a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at Lambeau Field. That delay lasted 21/2 hours.
Packers sitting out the game due to injury were safeties Marviel Underwood (knee) and Atari Bigby (hand), cornerbacks Will Blackmon (foot) and Patrick Dendy (ankle), fullback William Henderson (knee), offensive linemen Mookie Moore (shoulder), Josh Bourke (calf) and William Whitticker (hamstring), and defensive lineman Kenny Peterson (ankle).
Former Packer Hannibal Navies, now a linebacker for the Bengals, also did not play.
Packers tight end David Martin went to the locker room late in the first half with cramps but returned to the game.
Gado left the game in the third quarter with a rib injury but returned in the fourth quarter. Running back Arliss Beach limped off the field early in the fourth quarter with a right ankle injury, and linebacker Kurt Campbell injured his shoulder.