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McCarthy plans to lighten Grant's load

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by pack4life, Aug 27, 2008.

  1. pack4life

    pack4life Cheesehead

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    http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=787742

    Coach to balance his carries, catches
    By TOM SILVERSTEIN
    tsilverstein@journalsentinel.com
    Posted: Aug. 26, 2008
    Green Bay - If he had his druthers, Ryan Grant would run the ball at will in the Green Bay Packers' exhibition finale Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans.

    But Packers coach Mike McCarthy won’t allow it, not in a meaningless game like this and especially not in Grant’s first live action since running into the unyielding arms of the New York Giants’ defense seven months ago. He, like the rest of the Packers’ starters, will be in the game for about 10 snaps.

    As eager as Grant is to prove he’s not a one-year wonder, he might have to get used to the concept of moderation because if McCarthy has his way, there won’t be many 30-carry nights for his starting halfback. As good as Grant was in his first season as a starter, McCarthy doesn’t want to see a premature end to his career.

    “I don’t think he needs to carry it 30 times for us,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think he needs to carry it 25. I think 20 would be great. You have to be smart with a guy. You get him 20 carries a game, that’s being smart and productive. You can get him the ball some other ways through the passing game.

    “I don’t want the guy to be a one- or two-year flash and be done with him. History supports that.”

    At least the overall numbers do. A National Football League Players Association study released several years ago reported that the average career of an NFL player was 3.5 years in length. For a running back, it was only 2.6 years.

    For every vintage running machine like Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders, Tiki Barber and Emmitt Smith, there are multiple side-of-the-road wrecks like Jamal Anderson, Domanick Davis, Carnell “Cadillac” Williams and Rudi Johnson, all of whom broke down under the strain of overuse.

    It might not be music to Grant’s ears that he’ll be limited to around 300 carries this year, but the fact is last season he gained 1,159 yards in roughly 19 carries a game starting with the Denver Broncos game Oct. 29. Toward the end of the year, McCarthy started to incorporate backup Brandon Jackson into the lineup, which is something he plans on doing even more this year.

    Grant, who missed all but six practices this summer because of a contract dispute and a hamstring strain, will make his exhibition debut against the Titans and then prepare to be the Packers’ main running threat for the season opener Sept. 8 against Minnesota. Although his carries will be limited, his overall number of touches might not be.

    One of the ways McCarthy plans to increase Grant’s role without subjecting him to the pounding he takes running into 300-pound defensive linemen is to incorporate him more into the passing game. Last year, Grant caught 30 passes but had more than two catches in only four of the 18 games in which he appeared.

    Playing with Aaron Rodgers, who is more likely to dump the ball off than Brett Favre, Grant could wind up being among the team leaders in receptions this year. Such a thing happened during the 2003 season, when Ahman Green rushed for a franchise-high 1,883 yards and also finished second behind Donald Driver in receptions with 50.

    The problem is that Grant has basically missed two training camps with the Packers, last year because he was acquired in a trade a week before the opener and this year because of the contract and injury. Even his off-season program was affected this year because he was unable to practice without a contract.

    Even though Grant has been in meetings and watching every snap at practice, he hasn’t been working on his timing in the screen game or taking on blitzing linebackers when he stays in the backfield.

    “I would have liked to get him more experience in the passing game,” McCarthy said. “I don’t care what system you’re in, it’s the nuances of check-downs and timing and all that. You’d just really like to go through it with him.”

    Grant said after evaluating his 2007 season — he rushed for 956 yards (5.1 average) and eight touchdowns in the regular-season — he thought there were things he could do a lot better. He proved to be a good fit for the one-cut, zone style of running game McCarthy favors, but there were times his balance wasn’t good and his timing was off.

    The Packers worked harder on their screen pass this summer, but Grant wasn’t able to be a part of it, so he’ll be working from scratch when regular-season practice begins.

    “You can get better at everything,” Grant said. “You evaluate yourself, you’re hard on yourself. There are a lot of things I did wrong and could get better on. Even plays that I did right I can get better on.

    “I’m just trying to get more comfortable with certain plays. I wanted to feel comfortable with me doing everything. I want to be literally where I could be a quarterback on the field. I think the more you know, it slows the game down.”

    Grant’s road back starts against the Titans and reaches highway speed Sept. 8. How far he has fallen behind and how far McCarthy is willing to go with him will be answered at that time.
     
  2. pack4life

    pack4life Cheesehead

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    Looks like the plan is to get him more involved in the passing game and reduce the carries. I think he'll still do pretty solid in the running game with only 20 carries, i also like how it gives the opportunity to Brandon Jackson to get involved in our running game.

    I'm just hoping Grant is read to go week 1, hopefully he can get the timing with the offense figured out
     
  3. PackOne

    PackOne Cheesehead

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    Agreed, a solid one two punch would be comforting.
     
  4. bozz_2006

    bozz_2006 Cheesehead

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    1-2-3 punch. Greg's gonna get ya. run. pass. it don't matter.
     

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