Favre: Green Deserves Pro Bowl
Thursday, December 7, 2000
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
GREEN BAY, Wis. - The Green Bay Packers' Pro Bowl running back has been sidelined by knee problems almost all season. Or has he?
While Dorsey Levens has played just five games because of his injuries, third-year back Ahman Green has had a solid season growing into the offense.
And in Brett Favre's book, Green deserves Pro Bowl status for what he's done.
``I don't know how his statistics stack up to everyone else, but considering the fact he's leading our team in receptions and more than likely will get 1,000 yards rushing, not starting until maybe the fourth game of the year? That's impressive,'' Favre said.
Green, acquired in an offseason trade with Seattle, where Packers coach Mike Sherman was the offensive coordinator last year, was brought in as health insurance for Levens.
The Packers are cashing in. Green is their leading rusher and receiver.
He has carried 184 times for 822 yards, an average of 4.5 yards, and seven TDs. He's also caught 56 passes for 433 yards and a touchdown.
Even though Green has dropped 10 passes and fumbled away the ball four times, the Packers are thrilled with his substantial progress, and they don't believe he's anywhere near his potential yet.
``One thing we all have to remember about Ahman Green is he's 23 years old. He's younger than all our draft picks,'' Sherman said. ``So, the process of him maturing as a football player is still ongoing. He doesn't have the presence of a Dorsey Levens just yet, where Dorsey knows things before they even happen sometimes.''
Green was only a short-yardage running back with the Seahawks.
``This kid is learning on the job and has never played this much in his career in the NFL,'' Sherman said. ``Week in and week out, I'm encouraged by the way that he practices. He's as hard a practice player as we have.''
General manager Ron Wolf shares Sherman's optimism over Green's future.
``Where would we be without Ahman Green this year?'' Wolf asked.
Probably worse than 6-7.
And what if the Packers are without Levens next year?
Levens and his agent said he's willing to renegotiate his five-year, $25 million contract, which has two years remaining, so he can finish his career in Green Bay.
Levens, 30, knows the Packers can't afford to keep him if nothing is done with his contract, which will count a whopping $7.4 million against next year's cap. But the Packers might also decide to cut ties with Levens altogether.
Either way, Green has a future in Green Bay, where he's endeared himself to the coaching staff and his teammates, especially Favre.
Green has gotten better at picking up the blitz and working his way into the open field as Favre's safety valve for dump-off passes.
``I think he just had to get comfortable playing all the time,'' said his position coach, Kippy Brown.
Sherman is a fan of Green's demeanor and work ethic.
``He's very humble. I love the way he handles things. He's not a showboat, he just enjoys playing football. He enjoys living in Green Bay,'' Sherman said. ``I've seen this young man who I knew in Seattle and took a liking to there, as well, just grow up. It's fun to see that happen and fun to see the success that he's encountering at this present time.
``And, obviously, with his success should go our success.''
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