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Getting to know: RB Brandon Saine

Nov. 6, 2013
 
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The turning point came on the scout team. It wasn’t Brandon Saine’s dream destination, but an affordable compromise given the circumstances. An undrafted free agent out of Ohio State, the 5-foot-11, 220-pound running back was a long shot to survive the Green Bay Packers’ training camp after entering the NFL without the benefit of offseason activities during the lockout. Saine endured and forged himself a spot on the practice squad where he worked against the Packers’ first-team defense on a daily basis. He listened and learned, and when rookie running back Alex Green went down with a torn ACL in Week 7, he was promoted on Halloween to the active roster. In limited duty, Saine rushed for 69 yards on 18 carries over eight games and appears to be in line for a role again this season in a young backfield consisting of 26-year-old James Starks and Green. A year wiser with a full offseason to learn, Saine still takes the lessons he learned last year with him onto the practice field. “The best thing for me — and I think I’ve said this before — being on the practice squad half the year last year,” Saine said. “Every day I went against the first-team defense and that really showed me what a NFL defense looks like, and the different schemes. Our defense has some crazy blitzes, so I picked up on a lot of things there and I think that helped me out the most.” The 23-year-old Saine admits he isn’t quite ready to be an every-down back, but has shown the tools the Packers look for in their patchwork running game that’s fallen into the by-committee approach in recent years. Saine's commitment to pass protection and an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is something that's impressed his peers during the early portion of camp. “Brandon is a great football player,” said Green, who’s since returned from his ACL injury. “He’s an all-around running back. He can run, he can catch out of the backfield, he can block. He understands what’s going on and is a smart guy. He works hard day-in and day-out and brings great attributes to the Packers’ running game.” To make the active roster this year, Saine understands it’s going to take more than just his responsibilities in the backfield. He’ll need to prove his versatility to earn his keep with a new pair of undrafted rookies in training camp – Du’ane Bennett (Minnesota) and Marc Tyler (USC). “I think the biggest thing for me right now is getting special teams down and trying to stick there,” Saine said. “I think the running back position will come. I've played that position for a long time now. We have good coaches. I feel like I can make the best of it.” - whodkiew@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

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