Today is the 15th 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 Ryan Grant Tuesday, Feb. 12: 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
RYAN GRANT, RUNNING BACK
Season stats: Six games (four regular season, two postseason); 38 rushing attempts, 134 yards (3.5 average), two rushing touchdowns; two catches, 50 yards; one fumble lost
Best game: Week 16 win over Tennessee (20 carries, 80 yards, two rushing touchdowns; one catch, 34 yards; 0.8 PFF rating)
Worst game: Week 15 win at Chicago (eight carries, 32 yards; one fumble lost; minus-2.0 PFF rating)
ProFootballFocus.com season rating: Minus-1.4 (No. 3 out of 5 Packers running backs)
Expectations at the start of the season: Low
Expectations were … Met
Looking live: The Packers had every opportunity to re-sign Grant last offseason. Instead, the team chose to head into training camp with young running backs James Starks and Alex Green. After the first preseason game, when Starks suffered a turf toe injury, general manager Ted Thompson was in the market for a veteran running back. But, rather than bringing back Grant, the Packers signed Cedric Benson. Grant spent the first month of the regular season watching NFL games from home before the Washington Redskins signed him. One carry for five yards later and the Redskins released Grant. For another entire month, Grant was without a team. Then, when Benson’s foot injury turned out to be worse than expected and Starks was sidelined with a knee injury, the reunion between Grant and the Packers took place. Grant got a standing ovation from teammates as he entered a team practice in early December for the first time in nearly a year. However, it didn’t turn out to be a storybook ending as Grant’s ineffectiveness got him benched for the playoffs in favor of undrafted first-year running back (and recent practice-squad callup) DuJuan Harris.
Upon further review: There was some debate in the preseason whether the Packers would be better off with Benson or Grant. They’re the same age, but Benson had carried the ball 600-plus more times than Grant had throughout their respective NFL careers. That led to some suggestions that Grant might have more left in his legs to offer. After watching Benson run early in the season and Grant run late in the season, it was obvious that Thompson made the right call initially. Grant often got credit throughout his career for having a decisive running style and not dancing around too much in the backfield, but in his 38 rushing attempts this season, it didn’t help much. He was productive against a Tennessee Titans team in Week 16 that appeared to quit trying in the final three quarters, but that was his only impactful game. Coach Mike McCarthy made the wise decision by going to Harris at running back instead of Grant beginning in Week 17 and through the playoffs. Grant’s final nine carries this season totaled just nine yards (1.0 average). In the divisional-round loss to the 49ers, Grant played just one snap and wasn’t given the ball.
Overall 2012 grade: C
Status for 2013: One percent chance of being on the Packers’ active roster in Week 1 next season. This was likely the end of the road for Grant’s NFL career. He struggled to find a team to sign him in 2012 and, when the Redskins did bring him in, that experiment didn’t last long. However, even if Grant remains unsigned all offseason, if he keeps himself in good shape and wants to keep playing, there’s no telling when a team might lose a couple running backs to injury mid-season. Green Bay has plenty of younger options at running back, though. If the Packers bring back a veteran at that position, it’d be Benson. But with Harris emerging late in the season and the team still intrigued by Starks and Green, Grant’s comeback with the Packers is going to be short-lived.