Running back Ryan Grant said on Wednesday he has no doubts his contract situation will be resolved by the time training camp starts in late July, but in the meantime he's doing everything he can to stay involved while he's not practicing.
During Wednesday morning's mini-camp workout inside the Don Hutson Center, Grant was seen with his helmet on doing some conditioning drills along with several injured players who weren't practicing. He's also often watching the team (11-on-11) segments of practice, particularly when the offense is working on the running game.
"I'm just trying to make sure everything I can take part in, I'm doing," Grant told a group of reporters in the locker room after practice. "Really, the only thing I can't do is practice."
Grant, who rushed for nearly 1,000 yards as the starter during the second half of 2007, is an exclusive-rights free agent, so he's not free to negotiate with other teams. He has not signed the one-year tender offer for a player with his service time as his agent tries to work on a longer-term deal with the Packers.
Grant said he's in contact with his agent "a couple times a week," and he said the contract talks are "moving in the right direction."
Grant has participated in the individual work involved in the offseason program but has not participated in the OTAs or mini-camp. Though it would obviously be better for Grant and the Packers to have him on the field now, the offseason work he has done has advanced his knowledge of the offense well beyond where he was last year, when he joined the team following training camp in a trade with the New York Giants.
"I don't think it's falling behind," Grant said. "I know the concept of what we're trying to accomplish. I'm there watching, taking every mental rep. We're coaching each other in the backfield."
The others taking the on-field reps in his place include second-year pros Brandon Jackson and DeShawn Wynn, as well as veterans Vernand Morency and Noah Herron (back from a season-ending knee injury last year), and rookie free agent Kregg Lumpkin.
The competition for the backup spots is fierce, and Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Tuesday that the team will keep "the best three or four" on the final roster. That means at least two or three will get cut, and with the exception of Lumpkin, everyone has experience in the system to hit the ground running in training camp.
That wasn't the case a year ago, when Morency got hurt, Grant hadn't arrived yet, Wynn was battling injuries, and Jackson was the de facto No. 1 guy, taking probably more reps than a rookie normally would.
"The dynamics of that group from an experience standpoint is totally different," McCarthy said. "It's just getting those guys as prepared as possible for every situation.
"They're getting better. They're taking advantage of what we've asked them to do here. I think their best days are ahead of them. I think they're all going to factor on special teams, too."
Grant believes his best days are in the future as well, once the "business" of his contract gets resolved. He said he's the healthiest he's ever been and plans to have his conditioning in peak form when he returns to the field.
"I'll be pretty fresh," he said. "There are positives, and I have to be able to take something away from it.
"At the same end, I do want to make sure I'm putting myself through some type of strenuous workouts to make sure that conditioning-wise and physically I'm ready to go."