Packers Annual Checkup: RB Alex Green

Today is the 16th day of FOX Sports Wisconsin Packers writer Paul Imig’s offseason evaluations of every player on Green Bay’s roster. Click here for all of Paul’s previous evaluations and come back every day through mid-March for Paul’s in-depth film and statistical analysis. Coming up soon:

Today: RB Alex Green
Wednesday, Feb. 13: QB Graham Harrell
Thursday, Feb. 14: RB DuJuan Harris
Friday, Feb. 15: ILB A.J. Hawk
Saturday, Feb. 16: CB Casey Hayward

ALEX GREEN, RUNNING BACK

Season stats: 11 games (all regular season); 135 rushing attempts, 464 yards (3.4 average), zero rushing touchdowns, one fumble; 18 receptions, 125 yards

Best game:
Week 5 loss at Indianapolis (10 carries, 63 rushing yards, 6.3 average; season-high 2.2 PFF rating)

Worst game: Week 7 win at St. Louis (20 carries, 35 yards, 1.8 average; four receptions, 29 yards; season-worst minus-2.4 PFF rating)

ProFootballFocus.com season rating: Minus-3.2 (No. 4 out of 5 among Packers running backs)

Expectations at the start of the season: Low

Expectations were … Met

Looking live: This was going to be a difficult season in which to evaluate Green. After tearing his ACL midway through his rookie season in 2011, Green was on a limited snap count throughout training camp in 2012. Though Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson made the recovery from such a severe knee injury look relatively easy, it’s very challenging for most players. Coach Mike McCarthy has stated on several occasions that the most important aspect for a player in Green’s situation is to have a healthy comeback season. That was the case for tight end Jermichael Finley in 2011 and will be the case for tight end Andrew Quarless next season. Green’s top goal just had to be staying healthy, and, for the most part, he did that. As he recovered from his knee injury, which Green spent all offseason in 2012 rehabilitating, the team’s plan was not to count on him as its starting running back during the season. That starting role belonged to James Starks. When Starks was injured in the preseason, Green Bay’s front office and coaching staff showed its reluctance to expect too much from Green when the Packers decided to sign veteran Cedric Benson and insert him as the starter. Green was simply not healthy enough yet at that point to take on a full-time role without potential setbacks.

Upon further review: After injuries to Starks and Benson, the Packers had little choice but to give Green a shot beginning in Week 5. The first impression of Green was about as good as any inexperienced running back could show. Though the team squandered an 18-point halftime lead in Indianapolis, Green’s debut in a featured role was very impressive. His 41-yard run showed everything that the Packers were hoping to see when they drafted Green in the third round in 2011. Green made a good read to find his initial running gap between the left tackle and left guard — with nice patience behind a lead block from tight end Ryan Taylor, who was lined up in the backfield — and then made two terrific cutbacks that showed strength and power in his surgically repaired knee. Once in the open field, Green didn’t have breakaway speed on that play, but that was never one of his greatest attributes. However, nothing that Green did for the rest of the season displayed that same level of talent. Green was indecisive at times and was late to react to some open running lanes that would have allowed for much longer gains. He was removed as the starter after failing to average more than 3.0 yards in any of three ineffective games. Though he returned to the field in a smaller role later in the season and had a couple nice runs in Weeks 13 and 14, he wasn’t given the ball once over the final four games, including the two in the playoffs.

Overall 2012 grade: C

Status for 2013: 95 percent chance of being on the Packers’ Week 1 active roster. Green’s first two NFL seasons have been underwhelming for a player drafted in the third round. However, much of that is because of a serious knee injury that derailed his ability to show great improvement. Green’s decline as the season progressed could have been from a lack of strength and endurance in his knee, as he showed some signs to suggest that he wasn’t physically ready for the 135 carries that he was given. McCarthy was very high on Green before the 2012 regular season began, so the Packers will almost certainly want to give him a full healthy season to determine whether he can ever live up to his third-round draft position. The bigger uncertainty is whether Green will ever get another chance to be the team’s starting running back.

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