Green comes home
New (and old) Packer aims to make difference Wednesday, October 21, 2009
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New (and old) Packer aims to make difference

Veteran Ahman Green certainly isn't the same guy he was six years ago when he rushed for a franchise-record 1,883 yards.

But on the same day he signed a one-year contract to rejoin the Green Bay Packers, Green insisted he also isn't the same injured guy who didn't live up to his huge contract with the Houston Texans.

The Packers reached out to their past and signed Green on Wednesday morning, after surgery on backup running back DeShawn Wynn's knee showed that he was going to be sidelined well over a month and would need to go on season-ending injured reserve.

Green, 32, was chosen over 30-year-old free agent Dominic Rhodes and 25-year-old practice squad player Kregg Lumpkin because he impressed the team's personnel department during a workout Monday and wouldn't need much schooling in the Packers' system. Green played seven seasons with the Packers, including 2006 under McCarthy, his last year with the team.

"We really felt that Ahman would upgrade our running back group," McCarthy said. "Also, a lot like Mark Tauscher, the ability to keep improving your 53-man roster. Both veterans have a lot of experience here, and we feel comfortable when the time is right and when needed, however it shakes out, that they will be productive players for us."

The Packers value Green's work ethic and were impressed with his desire to play again, but like other teams who showed interest, they were worried about the toll injuries had taken on him. Over the past two seasons he played in just 14 games because of knee, groin, thigh, hamstring and ankle injuries.

It was a left knee injury suffered last Nov. 23 at Cleveland that moved the Texans to place Green on season-ending injured reserve and eventually release him. It was not the same knee that had caused him chronic pain for several years in Green Bay and led to him rupturing a quadriceps tendon in 2005, but the Texans thought it was serious.

Green disagreed.

"Last season's injury was not really a big deal as it was talked about," he said. "I knew myself more than they knew me down in Houston, so I told them I might miss a week, but I could be back."

Green said the injury did not require surgery and that since he was put on injured reserve he's worked on getting his body ready to endure an NFL pounding.

The Packers are well aware that 32-year-old running backs who thrive on contact are a risky proposition, but with a minimum-wage type deal and Lumpkin available if needed, they didn't think it was much of a risk.

As far as Green is concerned, he is as ready as he can be physically.

"That's with anything I do, I make sure I'm prepared," Green said. "It's like if I was in school preparing for a test. Coming from the injuries the last couple of seasons, we basically took care of that first."

In all likelihood, Green won't play this week against Cleveland, because he did not take part in a training camp and the risk of him getting hurt or fumbling with such little preparation time would be great.

During his years with the Packers, Green went four straight seasons fumbling in his first game and had at least one fumble in the first two from 2001-ག.

"To be ready by Sunday, that's a good goal, but I think it's going to be more realistic the week after that or the week after that," Green said. "Just taking it one day at a time."

Green, who is just 46 yards shy of breaking Jim Taylor's franchise career rushing record of 8,207 yards, said he felt that he wasn't ready to give up on his career, and the two disappointing years in Houston gave him a sour taste in his mouth. A huge fan of the city of Green Bay, Green said the best way to finish up was to do it with the Packers.

Heís wearing No. 34 instead of his customary No. 30 because fullback John Kuhn has his old number, but he said there was a chance a deal could be worked out. The main thing the Packers need him for is to relieve starter Ryan Grant and provide whatever shot in the arm he can for the slumping run game.

ďLike I told coach McCarthy, Iím here to help,Ē Green said. ďIím here to help the running backs, here to help this team, with my leadership and the running backs with whoever needs help. If Iíve got to help on special teams, return kicks, thatís no problem for me.

ďIím coming here to be that guy like Iíve always been, but now kind of in a secondary role, which I have no problem with."

Neither Grant nor backup Brandon Jackson expressed any displeasure with the addition of Green, even though it could mean their roles would be reduced.

Jackson knows Green because of their ties to the University of Nebraska, and Grant developed a relationship with him through running backs coach Edgar Bennett.

Right now, Grant has 88% of the running back carries, which is a number the coaches probably want to reduce, especially as the season wears on. If Green shows any of the form he once had, Grant could end up sharing the role instead of owning it.

Still, he said he actively campaigned for the front office to give Green a chance because he thought they could benefit from each other's presence.

"With him being there on the field, it's just another eye, another ear and certainly we can bounce stuff off each other," Grant said.

"I can help him with certain things; he can help me. Maybe he gets the opportunity to bring a different dimension. I think we're different style runners, but I like the way he's run. He's been able to do it at such a high level. I'm all for it."


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