When the Green Bay Packers signed Ahman Green on Wednesday there was a range of responses – from “awesome!” to “what the hell?”
Well, let’s get this out of the way right at the top, Green isn’t the player he was when he left the Packers via free agency to sign with the Houston Texans. During his first tour of duty with the Packers (seven seasons), Green rushed for 8,162 yards and caught 347 passes for 2,708 yards. He tallied six seasons of 1,000 yards or more – a Packers record. In two seasons in Houston, Green totaled 554 yards rushing. He played in only 14 games after injuries took their toll and was released after last season.
When this season started, Green didn’t even have any offers until the Packers called, but word is he looked great when he worked out for the team on Monday.
Green will not displace Ryan Grant as the starter in the Packers backfield.
What he will do is add another element to the Packers ground game and provide veteran leadership this Packers club seems to lack, outside of Charles Woodson. Woodson spoke to what the signings of Green and tackle Mark Tauscher mean to the team, on Wednesday.
“These guys, they know how to approach the game, they’ve been through the fire a little bit,” Woodson said. “‘Tausch’ has been on the outside looking in a little bit until he got signed. Ahman’s been outside looking in. They get it. A lot of young guys come in and they don’t understand what you have to go through at times in this league.
“I understand coming from Oakland. You bring guys in here you know are going to be hungry, guys that are going to work tirelessly to make this team better. I’m happy to have those guys on the team.”
What Green brings to the field remains to be seen, but Pro Football Weekly’s Dan Arkush reports that the Packers will play Green as much as he deserves to play.
If Green can regain even close to his prior form, he figures to help a Packers running attack that has been hindered by featured back Ryan Grant’s lack of explosiveness and the injury issues that continue to plague swing back Brandon Jackson, who missed the first four games this season because of a sprained ankle. But whether Green primarily spells Grant or steals touches from Jackson in third-down duty remains to be seen.
In the best case scenario (and we may be stretching into a wildest dreams scenario, here), the Packers could develop a backfield rotation similar to those in New York (Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw), New Orleans (Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell, Reggie Bush), or Dallas (Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Tashard Choice). Such a scenario allows the running backs to stay fresh and pound tired defenses late in the game, something the Packers haven’t been able to do in some time.
It’s a reasonable expectation that Green can still be the punishing runner he used to be in a limited role. With Grant and the now-healthy Jackson, the Packers may have a formidable trio of backs.
In the worst case scenario, Green doesn’t perform. But in the bigger picture, that really doesn’t matter.
The National Football Post’s Matt Bowen pointed out that the Packers aren’t tied to Green, making his signing a very low-risk deal.
If they can get him on the field, great. If not, then cut him loose next week if you have to. The Packers aren’t tied to Green with any sort of contract, so the risk here is almost nothing. If he can still play, you keep him. If he can’t, then move on.
The Packers have put themselves in a no-risk, high potential reward situation.
The way Green has looked so far, I wouldn’t bet against him sticking around for the rest of the season. Green is 46 yards shy of the franchise’s all-time rushing mark, held by Jim Taylor, and is determined to end his career on his own terms.
“… something was missing after these past two years, that I didn’t quite want to finish that way, the way my career was in Houston, and I didn’t want that to basically become my legacy, finishing that way. Because I had a great run here, and I wanted to finish that in terms of my way, but also the man upstairs’ way, to finish it in a good way, the best way I can.”