That's a switch

It wasn't exactly sleight of hand, but Ahman Green worked some magic in Sunday's victory against Minnesota.

No, not his 145-yard performance. No, not his comeback from a bruised left kneecap. What was magical was Green switching the ball from his left arm to his right during a 35-yard, second-quarter burst.

The most basic of running-back fundamentals is something Green has been reluctant to do throughout his productive career. Because of Green's habit of toting the ball only in his left arm, he is prone to fumbling the ball on runs to the right as the ball is an easy target for oncoming defenders.

By carrying the ball in his right arm on runs to the right, Green's left arm — which is nearest hard-charging defenders — is free to employ a stiff arm to help him churn out additional yardage. Also, Green's body serves as a protective barrier between the ball and the tacklers.

Green's reluctance to use his right arm to carry the ball has played a big role in his propensity to fumble throughout his career. In the first five games of the season, Green coughed it up four times. Three of those resulted in turnovers, and the Packers lost each of those games.

Green has protected the ball better as the season has progressed, which has been the trend throughout his career. Green has secured the ball on 105 consecutive touches over four games, a streak that coincides with the Packers' four-game winning binge that has brought them to the top of the NFC North standings.

"If he's not in traffic and he is clean and he is not about to get hit and he feels comfortable with that transition, he's going to try to do that more often," coach Mike Sherman said Monday. "But in traffic, he's going to cover up."

Of course, Green has only switched hands on one run, so there's more to his ball-security streak. One reason is Green has stopped wearing the sleeves that protect his forearms during the four-game streak. Perhaps more important is a drill in which all Packers' ball carriers must run through a tunnel of defenders whose sole purpose is to try and strip away the football.

A year ago, Green finished the season, playoffs included, with 246 consecutive touches without a fumble. Offensive coordinator Tom Rossley, who created the ball-security drill, expects a similar run this year.

"I expect that he'll have seven, eight, 10, 11, however many games we need down the stretch to get us through to next year," Rossley said. "I have the same feeling. I'm very confident to put that ball in his hands."

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