Growing up as the fourth of five brothers, Green Bay Packers running back Alex Green transferred the competitive spirit between him and his siblings to fuel his football career.
Green also knows that developing a close relationship with members of his gridiron family is vital to his NFL success.
That’s why Green is hoping to build tighter bonds with his offensive line to help Green Bay’s running game get back on track.
The Packers enter the FOX America’s Game of the Week against Arizona (1 p.m. ET Sunday) with the NFL’s 26th-ranked rushing attack at 90.1 yards per game. Green has started the past three contests but hasn’t come close to hitting that mark in any of them despite receiving an average of 21 carries in each.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers are well aware that over-reliance on the passing game isn’t conducive for an offense’s long-term prosperity. Green, though, will remain with the first-team offense against the Cardinals after receiving a vote of confidence earlier this week from McCarthy.
"It gives you a good feeling in your stomach,” Green told FOXSports.com, referring to McCarthy’s decision. “We know we can do this. We have great guys up front that can get the job done. We’ve just got to be productive and make the plays that are there."
To that end, Green acknowledges there still are growing pains as he tries to better the chemistry with his linemen. A 2011 third-round draft choice, Green played at the University of Hawaii in a “pistol” offense that featured much wider splits than what he gets to run through in Green Bay’s zone-blocking scheme.
“[The linemen] have got to get used to how I run, when I make my cuts, my tempo and things like that,” Green said. “I have to get a good feel for how they’re blocking and have a timeclock in my head about how long a guy is going to be blocked for and how much they’re going to push or wash (the defender).
“We haven’t been on the same page or in tune with each other, but we’re definitely taking steps in the right direction."
Green made significant strides recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that derailed his rookie season last year in Week 7. Green, 6 feet, 225 pounds, looks far sharper now than he did in the preseason, when he admittedly was “getting more comfortable and back in football shape” after months in rehab.
Green entered the regular season as a reserve but was promoted to the starting lineup after Cedric Benson suffered a foot injury in Week 5 against Indianapolis. Whether he keeps that job, especially now that backup James Starks (toe) is healthy, depends on Green improving his 2.9-yard rushing average. A Cardinals defense that ranks 26th against the run provides what may be a sink-or-swim opportunity.
“There are a couple of games we weren’t satisfied with, me in particular,” said Green, who was held to 54 yards on 22 attempts in Sunday’s 24-15 win over Jacksonville. “The carries are there. I can’t complain about that.”
Whining also would get Green nowhere with his brothers when he was a kid in Portland, Ore.
"It was us fighting all day,” Green recalled with a laugh. “We were all very competitive with everything, whether it was getting in the front seat of the car if we were going somewhere or who would have to wash the dishes first. We’d go outside and play football in the streets.
“You wanted to be the best so you could gloat.”
Now it’s on Green and his offensive line to create something to brag about.