Mike Vandermause column: Changing role doesn't change Grant's attitude

Jan. 13, 2012

Loading Photo Galleries ...

Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant sprints for an 80 yard touchdown reception in the second quarter Jan. 1 against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. / Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette


This is like old home week for Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant.

He will be facing his former team, the New York Giants, in an NFC divisional playoff game Sunday at Lambeau Field, and attempting to elude his best friend and offseason New Jersey neighbor, Giants defensive end Justin Tuck.

Grant is hungry for a taste of playoff action after a season-ending ankle injury in September 2010 took him out of the Packers eventual Super Bowl championship run.

But despite the personal nature of this matchup, Grant isnt treating this game any differently.

Yes, a berth in the NFC championship game is at stake, but Grant will take the same measured approach he uses to prepare for every game.

The fifth-year running back prides himself on practicing like he plays and being a team leader.

Hes a guy that I think other players in the locker room look up to because he does things the right way, and hes on board with the direction this team is going, said Packers running backs coach Jerry Fontenot.

Its all about winning. Thats where Ryan Grant stands.

Grant will do whatever is asked of him with no complaint.

In the season prior to his injury, Grant rushed 282 times for 1,253 yards. He returned as the starter this season but shared duties with James Starks and had 134 rushes for 559 yards.

A selfish player might have sulked over that drastically reduced workload, but thats not how Grant operates.

Roles change, everybody recognizes that, Grant said.

Im not a coach, Im a player. You do whats asked of you. At the same time, the coach does a good job of putting us in the best situation, and were 15-1. So its worked, evidently.

The Giants traded Grant for a sixth-round draft choice prior to the 2007 season. It was a steal for the Packers after Grant rushed for 3,412 yards in his first three seasons here. He joined Jim Taylor and Ahman Green as the only Packers running backs to rush for more than 1,200 yards in consecutive seasons.

Although his role on the field isnt as large anymore, Grant contributes in a variety of other ways.

Hes a stud individual, said Packers coach Mike McCarthy this week. He has a strong presence in our locker room. Hes definitely one of our strongest personalities, just a blue collar, workmanlike approach to everything he does.

Said Grant in response: I think Ive been pretty consistent in who I am and what Im about. I think people see that. If thats how they look at me, Im cool with that, Im OK with that. I think they respect me. Thats my biggest thing, having the respect of guys in this locker room and the coaches.

Grant is quick to offer advice to Starks, even if the second-year running back has taken about half of Grants rushing attempts this season. During his rookie year with the Giants, Grant received similar help from veteran Tiki Barber, so he in turn wont hesitate to pass along his knowledge to Starks.

Hes always helping me, Starks said. Theres a lot he taught me.

I dont think there will ever be tension between us. (Hes) like my brother.

Grant will become an unrestricted free agent following the season, and at age 29, his future is unknown.

If this is his final season in Green Bay, Grant can walk away with his head held high after leaving an indelible mark.

Hes a pure professional, Fontenot said. Ryan comes to work every single day. He doesnt complain about anything. Hes going to take every single rep you want him to take, and hes going to finish everything the way you want him to finish it.

Its hard to ask for more out of any employee.

mvandermause@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
579 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
862 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
1025 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
1278 votes

Catch up on the latest in our pregame show every game day.

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports


Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports