Ryan Grant went to work on his body during the off-season. He's a physical specimen standing 6-1 and 215 pounds but his attitude is what is most impressive. "I've been working real hard the whole summer—just trying to get right. It was a lot of hard work but I think it's going to pay off. I feel great right now. I'm in great shape, my weight is up, my strength is up and my speed is up so I feel really good right now."
Grant's injury has really focused him on what he needs to do. He says he's prepared his body but has kept his speed while gaining the weight. "I threw on a little weight but I didn't get fat at all. I didn't want to lose my speed so just running, getting stronger and working hard. I just wanted to find a weight I felt comfortable at and still not take too many hits. It's a weight I feel good with. I don't feel heavy at all and I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life."
The wait was difficult for Grant and he's just happy to be playing again. "I feel like it's been a while since I've been playing. I hated sitting out this spring and watching everyone get better. I knew that I could get better if I were out there so that was hard. I feel great though. It was a lot of hard work over the summer but I'm really glad to be back with the guys, working hard, busting my butt and we've just got to get right."
The speculation has already begun over who will win the starting job at running back this year. Grant says people read too much into that and he's just going to play his game. He also says that having Julius Jones around is a great thing for this team. "I think people look into this a little more than they should. Julius is a weapon and I think we can absolutely use Julius and I love having Julius on this team. The backs have to compete—that's what makes guys good. You don't ever want to become complacent because that is when performance starts to lack. I think with Julius in the backfield it adds a big plus to our backfield. He's going to work and I'm going to work but it's not a feud or anything like that. I think we can compliment each other very well."
Grant says that Julius returning to this team hasn't changed anything about how he trains. He says that only he can motivate himself and that his desire to get better is what will make the difference for him on the field this year. "For me, other people don't motivate me. It comes down to myself and if I perform at the highest level that I can then nobody is going to outwork me. I think that nobody is going to be better than me and that is how I work. It's not a matter of who's on the team. If we had no backs, I would still have to go out and perform to the best of my ability because I want to be best back I can be."
The backs didn't get worked into the passing game much last year. Grant expects that he will be catching a lot more passes this year. "In the west coast offense the backs are supposed to be prolific in the passing game. There are probably a number of reasons they didn't throw to the backs last year. I don't know if you watched practice today but the wide receivers were kind of surprised at how many times the backs got the ball. I think that's one thing we're going to definitely work on."
Grant looks to be in fantastic shape. His body is chiseled to perfection and he looks even quicker than before. I love Grant's attitude. He reminds me a lot of Tony Fisher. Julius may be a shade faster but Grant works hard and believes in himself. I agree with Grant that both he and Julius will compliment each other very well. Hopefully both can rush for a 1000 yards in 2003.