Grant Rounding Back Into Form

After missing most of last season with an ankle injury, Ryan Grant looked like his old self while running through the Bears. Grant, who rushed for 1,200 yards in 2008 and 2009, had a season-high 92 yards against Chicago.

Just three games into the 2011 season, Ryan Grant is beginning to look more and more like his old self. You know, the No. 25 who slashes through the line and bursts into the secondary before the secondary is ready. That Ryan Grant.

Against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, the Green Bay Packers' running back made excellent use of his cutback lanes early in the game and wound up with 92 yards on 17 carries. He looked good and seemed very comfortable from the get-go, starting the game with a 13-yard rumble on the first snap of the contest. He added a 14-yard run in the third quarter and had another 13-yarder in the second quarter. Plus, he had two 9-yard runs on the Packers' touchdown series.

"It felt good," Grant agreed when asked to assess his performance. "It was just good to come away with a win. I knew it was going to be a drag-it-out type of game against this type of team because we're division rivals. But I was glad we came away with a win even though it wasn't pretty."

Coach Mike McCarthy had his share of aggravations and disappointments in this contest, but the running game featuring Grant was not on that list.

"I thought Ryan was big for us today," said McCarthy. "He did a good job running downhill and it was important for us to be able to move the ball today. I thought Ryan did a great job with his running decisions. He's a hard running, physical back and he did a nice job."

Grant's recovery from last year's season-ending ankle injury in the first game against Philadelphia has been a work in progress. Working up a head of steam early against the Bears, Grant found plenty of running room on cutbacks.

"The cutbacks were good early on but then they were kind of playing for that so we kept more of the runs front side," said Grant. "We kept bodies on bodies and that gave us lanes. It was just a tribute to the line and all the guys up front."

Grant provided some balance on offense, with the Packers throwing it 40 times (38 passing attempts and two sacks) and running it 29 times.

"I think Ryan deserves a lot of credit for the win today," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "Ryan was Ryan for the first time this season. He ran the ball hard, he made the right cuts, it's fun to see him get going like that."

While Grant was piling up yardage and giving the Bears fits, James Starks enjoyed no such success. He gained a meager 5 yards on 11 attempts, a far cry from his performance the last time he came to Soldier Field in the NFC Championship Game, when he gained 74 hard-charging yards with a touchdown on 22 carries. But the way Starks looked at it, if the Bears were keying on him, so be it.

Starks was more than happy to add his praises to Grant in the happy Packers locker room.

"I think Ryan just had a good day," said Starks. "We've got a good backfield, so them keying on me, that's a bad idea. We still have Ryan and a win is a win. I think we did a good job rushing the ball and passing. From my standpoint, I should have done a little bit better. I think I could have broken some tackles but I'll have to look at the film to see if I made some right reads."

Fullback John Kuhn attributed Grant's success to Chicago's aggressive defensive style, which opened up the holes for Grant. Simply put, Green Bay took what the Bears were giving them.

"They've got a great front seven and they come downhill real hard.," said Kuhn. "They do a lot of slanting on the front line and we got some good creases in there and our running backs did a good job of finding those creases. James' plays didn't hit as open as Ryan's did, but that's why we have two really good running backs. If they have one bottled up, the other one's going to break out the way that Ryan did today."

Above all, Grant was patient in waiting for the holes to open up.

"Winning games helps but we know why we're here and why we're in this as a team," said Grant. "We understand that we have a lot of weapons. If that's our issue, then I'll take that issue. Having too many weapons – that's not our problem to worry about."

No, for next week, it's Denver's problem to worry about.



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