8

March

No Worries about Packers Running Backs

Brandon Saine

Packers RB Brandon Saine

Packers running back Ryan Grant is set to hit the open market and, in my opinion, likely won’t return to Green Bay. Once Grant signs elsewhere, get ready for a segment of Packers fans to start clamoring for Ted Thompson to sign or draft Grant’s replacement.

If a RB high on Thompson’s draft board is out there, he very well could draft him, but don’t expect Thompson to reach for a RB based on a perceived need. And if you’re holding your breath that Thompson will sign a name free agent RB or trade for one, exhale now. If a RB comes to the Packers from a different team, it’ll be a guy that nobody has heard of, like Grant was.

Don’t be surprised if Thompson rolls with the RBs currently on the roster. If he chooses that route, it shouldn’t worry Packers fans at all.

James Starks had a disappointing and injury-filled 2011, but he showed he had the talent to be a competent every-down back if he can stay on the field. Hopefully a full offseason builds Starks’s endurance and makes him a stronger player. It’d be nice if he learned to be a little more decisive, too.

Brandon Saine’s main job was catching swing/screen passes, building a head of steam, and plowing forward after initial contact. The undrafted rookie seems versatile and able to do a variety of things out of the backfield, sort of like Grant. We know way too little about Saine to declare him anything but a longshot, but with some seasoning in pass protection, I could see him as a third-down back.

Alex Green blew out his knee halfway through the season and likely will start slowly in 2012, maybe even on the physically unable to perform list. Before the injury, Green didn’t get many opportunities. The Packers seemed to envision Green as the type of all-around back they target: Someone that won’t blow you away, but is able to do everything you ask him to do at a mostly competent level. Green will be a wild card in 2012. If healthy, he should improve later in the season.

By now, we all know what we’re getting with John Kuhn. He blocks, he catches, and every now and then, he plows into the end zone. It’ll be interesting to see if the Packers stick TEs Tom Crabtree or D.J.Williams in the backfield as a fullback at all this season.