Packers Training Camp Countdown: 25 Days

Every day until the start of camp on July 26, we'll provide one juicy nugget to whet your appetite for the return of football. We'd give you more but the CBA forbids two-a-days. Sorry. The Packers are looking to field the running game they've lacked since No. 25, Ryan Grant, was in his prime.

"Don't Know What You Got (Till it's Gone)," was a hit ballad by the long-forgotten hair band Cinderella.

They are fitting lyrics for a long-forgotten — and taken for granted — running back, Ryan Grant.

The Green Bay Packers' running game has been nothing short of abysmal since Grant sustained a broken ankle in the second quarter of the 2010 opener at Philadelphia.

With Grant bursting onto the scene midway through 2007, the Packers wound up 12th in the league with 4.1 yards per rush. They finished 18th with 4.1 yards per rush in 2008 and surged to 13th with 4.3 yards per rush in 2009.

That's a potent running game. Obviously, it wasn't always a reliable running game — recall the 2007 NFC Championship Game for the ultimate example — but at least it was a quality change-up to burn teams focused on Brett Favre and, later, Aaron Rodgers.

The Packers missed that change of pace the past three seasons. The Packers ranked 25th in yards per carry in 2010, 26th in 2011 and 22nd last season, never once reaching a 4.0-yard average in those seasons.


32 DAYS: Red-hot Finley's 32 catches

31 DAYS: Our most powerful stat on fumbles

30 DAYS: Burnett quietly one of the best

29 DAYS: 29 points per game not good enough

28 DAYS: Packers dominate FA era

27 DAYS: Beyond ‘Big Three,' it's only Boykin's 27 yards

26 DAYS: Undrafted impact

Yes, the Packers won the Super Bowl in 2010 with leading rusher Brandon Jackson averaging 3.7 yards per rush, but that team fielded a dominant defense that yielded only 15.0 points per game and got an unexpected lift from James Starks in the playoffs. Yes, the Packers went 15-1 in 2011 as they fielded arguably the greatest passing attack the NFL has ever seen.

The lack of a running game caught up with the team in the 2011 playoffs and through the lion's share of last season. Defenses, taking a page from the Giants' playbook in the 2011 playoffs, were content to ignore the run game, rush with four and drop seven into coverage. The Packers still ranked fifth in scoring but it seldom looked easy. That was apparent from Rodgers' average yards per passing attempt. After posting averages of 8.2 in 2009, 8.3 in 2010 and a stunning 9.2 in 2011, Rodgers fell to 7.8 yards per attempt in 2012. Jordy Nelson went from 18.6 yards per reception in 2011 to 15.2 in 2012. James Jones went from 16.7 to 12.3. Randall Cobb went from 15.0 to 11.9. Greg Jennings went from 14.2 to 10.2 — more than 5 yards lower than his career average.

The obvious hope is the revamped backfield will provide what Jackson, Starks, Alex Green and Cedric Benson have failed to provide. DuJuan Harris' 4.6-yard average in the regular season (4.1, including playoffs) hints that the problem was more the backs than the blockers. Now, it'll be up to Harris, Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin to give the Packers the type of rushing attack they've lacked since Grant was running wild for two-and-a-half seasons.

"We'll be better, I promise you that. Big letters," coach Mike McCarthy said in the offseason's best quotation.

10 years of Packers rushing

2012: Rushing: 20th (106.4). Average: 22nd (3.9).

2011: Rushing: 27th (97.4). Average: 26th (3.9).

2010: Rushing: 24th (100.4). Average: 25th (3.8).

2009: Rushing: 14th (117.8). Average: 13th (4.3).

2008: Rushing: 17th (112.8). Average: 18th (4.1).

2007: Rushing: 21st (99.8). Average: 12th (4.1).

2006: Rushing: 103.9 (23rd). Average: 21st (3.9).

2005: Rushing: 30th (84.5). Average: 31st (3.4).

2004: Rushing: 10th (119.3). Average: 12th (4.3).

2003: Rushing: 3rd (159.9). Average: 2nd (5.0).

Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

Packer Report Top Stories