Happy in Green Bay

Ahman Green wants to remain a Packer

Whether the Packers offer him a long-term or short-term contract, Ahman Green prefers to remain in Green Bay. The Pro Bowl running back is coming off a season in which he was hampered by injuries, but is confident that he will be ready to play when the 2006 season begins.

Green, who turns 29 on Feb. 16, was placed on season-ending injured reserve after sustaining a ruptured quadriceps tendon on Oct. 23 against the Minnesota Vikings. He recently told Sirius Sports Radio that all is well with his rehab, and that the Packers and his agent have talked off and on about a new contract. Green, who finished his eighth NFL season and sixth in Green Bay, is second on the Packers' all-time rushing list with 7,103 yards. Jim Taylor tops the list with 8,207 yards.

Last year, Green finished with his lowest rushing output since his first two seasons in Seattle – 255 yards on 77 carries in five games and a career-low 3.3 yards per carry.

Green is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 3, but is not expected to draw interest, if any, from other NFL teams for a couple of reasons: The nature of his injury, which generally takes up to a year for a full recovery, and he is 'old' for a starting NFL running back. Green, however, has always kept himself in tip-top shape, so he is more likely to be ready to play sooner than later. He already began running in January, well ahead of schedule. He resides in the Green Bay area and continues to work out at Packer headquarters this off-season.

"The doctors are slowing me up because I'm a hard worker," Green said. "If I'm down, I'm ready to get back up the next day, not months away from the injury. … I'm feeling pretty good and I'm chomping at the bit to get back onto that football field."

Green is coming off a five-year, $17 million contract extension that he signed with the Packers in July of 2001. He realizes that his value has plummeted because of the injury, but is hoping that he can remain with the Packers.

"Talks are back and forth, not real fast," Green said. "I'm not thinking about it now, I'm focusing on rehab. My agent and the Packers organization are talking about getting something done for the fall. Whether it's a one-year deal, or it's a long-term deal, whatever. As long as I'm a Packer, I'll be happy."

If Green is re-signed, he'll be the incumbent ahead of Samkon Gado, who came out of nowhere to lead the Packers in rushing with 582 yards over the second half of the season. The Packers also will have to decide on whether to re-sign Najeh Davenport and Tony Fisher, both of whom are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. Davenport suffered a broken ankle a game before Green's injury and was lost for the season. Fisher is a dependable third-down back. It is very possible that the Packers will select a running back in the April NFL draft and/or sign an up-and-coming free agent.

"As long as I'm in the green and gold, I'll be a happy player, but I know how this business is and I've got to be ready for whatever may come if I'm not a Green Bay Packer," Green said.

Here are some other questions Green addressed during his interview with Sirius:

Was this your toughest year as a pro?
AG: "NFL-wise, yes. I had a year in college when I had turf toe and I was kind of in and out for most of the season at Nebraska. NFL-wise, it has to be the most physically and emotionally taxing year with football."

Q: Will Brett Favre return next season?
AG:"He did make the statement that if Coach Sherman is out, he might consider retiring. But knowing him, for the years I've known him, and the competitor that he is – good or bad – it's a mindset of his own. He'll have to think about it weigh all the options. Every year I get asked this question, obviously, and the way I answer it is look at it from both sides in terms of what he has accomplished in the NFL - all the records he has broken, the Super Bowl twice, Pro Bowls. From that standpoint, you can say, ‘Go ahead, you can walk away.' But then knowing him, he's so competitive, and he might not want to end on a note like this. With that, he might come back as well. We all will have to wait and see until it comes time for him to make that decision."

If Favre does not return, how different will it be with Aaron Rodgers without Favre as the main guy in Green Bay?
AG: "There's going to be a big difference, obviously. Teams won't have beads of sweat on their heads every Saturday night getting ready for the Packers with No. 4 at quarterback. It will be a little bit different. With everybody else coming back, it might still be there because I, myself, will be very hungry. Javon's (Walker) going to be hungry, and if everybody gets healthy … Bubba (Franks), Najeh, and if they're here, we're going to be a team to be reckoned with in the NFC North."

How did Aaron Rodgers look in practice last year?
AG: "He looked great. He has a strong arm. He's an intelligent kid, so it's just the opportunity for him to get on the football field preseason-wise and regular season-wise to see what he can do."

Do you think Mike Sherman got a raw deal, considering all the injuries, 4-12 season, or was it time for a change?
AG: "I think it was a tough deal because you can't factor out the injuries. The injuries were so big and detrimental to our team this year that it's hard not to look at that and say, ‘OK, this is coach's fault for myself getting hurt, J-Walk, Bubba, Najeh.' Guys getting hurt in the latter part of the year … you can't put that on anybody. Injuries happen. This is a rough sport, constantly hitting every single play. Bad injuries and little injuries are going to happen every, single play.

"In my opinion, he wasn't to blame. It's hard to coach a team when all your key guys are out – your king, queen and your ace are all gone. It's hard every day, week in and week out when you're way below .500 to motivate the guys, but he did and the guys still came out and played for him. Just seeing that showed the character of our team and the character of Coach Sherman."

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