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Article:PPP: Running Backs

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This is copied and pasted from PackerNation.

The second in the Packer Position Profiles series.

The Green Bay Packers opened the 2007 season with multiple question marks at running back after the departure of long-time running back Ahman Green. The Packers came into camp with two rookies and injured veteran vying for the open position. Noah Herron was placed on injured reserve during training camp, taking him out of the running for the job and possibly ending his Packers career, while Vernand Morency suffered a knee injury in camp, effectively removing him from the race. The two horses left in camp were Brandon Jackson, a second-round pick from Nebraska, and DeShawn Wynn, a seventh-round pick from Florida. Jackson was the victor coming out of camp, but a little-thought of wild-card was entered into the draw with the acquisition of Ryan Grant from the New York Giants one week before the season opener.

Jackson earned the start for the first three games of the season and performed questionably before he was usurped by Wynn. Wynn started four games before being injured in Week 8 against Denver. This gave Green Bay their third starting running back of the season with Grant. Grant almost single-handedly (I know some credit has to go to a young and developing offensive line) turned the Packers non-existent running game into one of the most feared in the league, balancing out one of the league's top offenses. Grant took pressure off of Brett Favre and the passing game, making the offense even more effective. After returning from injury, Morency was primarily used as a third-down back and had more receiving yards than rushing yards.

Ryan Grant Rushes: 188 Yards: 956 AVG: 5.1 TDs: 8 Long: 66t Rec: 30 Yards: 145 TDs: 0 AVG: 4.8 Long: 21

Best Game: Week 14 vs. Oakland Rushes: 29 Yards: 156 AVG: 5.4 TDs: 1 Long: 26 Rec: 2 Yards: 6 TDs: 0 AVG: 3.0 Long: 5

Grant proved to be somewhat of a savior for the Packers offense in 2007. At the beginning of the season, the Packers offense was almost strictly one-dimensional, but after Week 8 vs. Denver, Grant helped turn the tide of the offense. Despite his great performance, Grant displayed some glaring inconsistencies. He never ran for more than 100 yards in consecutive games, and his statistics were the benefactor of the big play multiple times. In Week 16 against Chicago, Grant ran 14 times for 100 yards, an average of 7.1 yards per carry. However, 90 of those yards came on two carries, his 66-yard touchdown run and a 24-yard scamper later in the game. That leaves him with 12 carries for 10 yards, and average of 0.83 yards per carry. If Grant wants to stick around and be a great back, he will have to avoid more situations such as this one. Regardless of these problems, Grant proved he could be an NFL running back. He does require an insurance policy in my opinion, however.

'Brandon Jackson Rushes: 75 Yards: 267 AVG: 3.6 TDs: 1 Long: 44 Rec: 16 Yards: 130 TDs: 0 AVG: 8.1 Long: 16 '

Best Game: Week 17 vs. Detroit

Rushes: 20 Yards: 113 AVG: 5.6 TDs: 0 Long: 46 Rec: 2 Yards: 22 TDs: 0 AVG: 11.0 Long: 13

Jackson left camp as the starter, although he was on rocky footing for most of the time. As three games as the starter, he failed to perform up to expectations. Jackson was then demoted to spot duty and special teams. Coach Mike McCarthy feels that Jackson could become a special teams ace in the future.

DeShawn Wynn Rushes: 50 Yards: 203 AVG: 4.1 TDs: 4 Long: 44 Rec: 9 Yards: 73 TDs: 0 AVG: 8.1 Long: 18

Best Game: Week 5 vs. Chicago Rushes: 13 Yards: 78 AVG: 6.0 TDs: 1 Long: 44 Rec: 1 Yards: 13 TDs: 0 AVG: 13.0 Long: 13

Wynn seized the starting job in Week 4 after seeing limited action in the first three games of the season. Wynn was successful, but was injured on his first carry in Week 8 at Denver. If he had not been injured, he most likely would continued to be the feature back in McCarthy's system, and we would have never heard of Ryan Grant. I would expect Wynn to be the second string running back at camp next year unless Jackson makes significant strides.

Vernand Morency, the primary third-down running back last year, is expected to leave in free agency, along with Noah Herron, who was put on IR after a knee injury in training camp.

2007 Grade : B

2008 Outlook The outlook for 2008 is much clearer than it was for 2007. In 2007, no one knew who the starting running back would be week-in and week-out. After Week 8, however, Grant emerged and helped carry the team into the playoffs. I do not think Grant will be able to repeat his 2007 performance. People now know who he is and they will be sure to put someone on him and start to game plan around him. Grant will not be able to take the league by storm as he did in 2007. Also, Grant needs to develop some consistency and gets his yards per carry average up and not rely on really long runs for most of his yards.

2008 Projected Grade : B

Draft Needs None at the moment. I could see the Packers making a minor veteran pickup in free agency or drafting one the guys ranked outside the top 15 on NFL Draft Watch in the late rounds.

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