Who needs preseason work?
After missing the last three preseason games, Ahman Green showed no rust, rushing for 157 yards Monday, September 10, 2001
Green Bay News-Chronicle

After missing the last three preseason games, Ahman Green showed no rust, rushing for 157 yards

By Doug Ritchay

In case you didn't know, running back Ahman Green's greatest asset is his speed. Once he gets in the open field, he's gone, unless the second coming of Carl Lewis is on defense.

That is provided he's healthy, of course, and that was in doubt headed into Green Bay's regular-season opener against Detroit. Green missed the Packers' final three preseason games with a pulled groin, so just how fast he would be Sunday remained to be seen. Fast enough, it turned out.

Green scored on touchdown runs of 31 and 83 yards in the first quarter, en route to a 157-yard performance on 17 carries. That answered all of the questions about his health and whether he was ready to pick up where he left off last season.

"What am I going to do when I get out in the open?" Green said. "Will I be able to make a cut back? With a groin injury, that's the base of your body, and being a running back you use that area a lot. The question was answered real early."

Before the game it was unclear how much of the load Green would carry with Dorsey Levens also healthy. The Packers believe the Green-Levens combination can be one of the best in the NFL, but Sunday it was just Green who was one of the best.

He rushed four times for 122 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter. For a moment, he had to feel like he was back at the University of Nebraska, running behind those dominating offensive lines.

"It was a great performance by the offensive line," Green said. "They opened holes. They were just on it today."

As well as Green performed, though, the one negative that has followed him throughout his career reared its ugly head more than once during a rainy afternoon.

Green's questionable hands were responsible for two dropped passes, two muffed pitches and one lost fumble.

"I can't make an excuse," Green said. "I haven't seen nothing since we played Cleveland. Then to come back in a game where it's wet and muddy, that doesn't make the job easier. As a professional, you have to think about it harder and put two hands on the ball."

"If I could just get him to catch the easy ones, he'd become very dominating," Packers' quarterback Brett Favre said. "The one run says it all. That's pretty tough to do. He was stopped at the line of scrimmage."

Packers' head coach Mike Sherman didn't let the miscues overshadow Green's overall performance.

"He did some good things, and there are some things he has to work on," Packers' head coach Mike Sherman said. "He took his eye off the ball a couple times. I think the statement he made is he can be a hell of a football player, but he still has some things to correct."

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