Count on Green getting up to speed

Running back will quite his critics

General manager Ted Thompson got the unofficial free agency period off to a good start this week when he re-signed Ahman Green to a one-year contract. The deal is perfect for both Green and the Packers and may just be enough for the nine-year NFL running back to recapture some of his old form.

If Green plays well this coming season, he will get paid accordingly. If he does not, the Packers are not losing much based on the value of his contract. As NFL contracts go, it is almost too good to be true.

Even before a serious rupture of his quadriceps tendon in Week 7 last season, Green, 29, was being written off by several people. Doubt may have even been creeping in for Green himself.

Quite frankly, though, Green and the Packers' running game were not set up for a big season. It really did not matter who was running the ball. Only late in the year did the team find the formula, and even then there was no consistency.

After roster changes, injuries, and poor free agent signings along the interior of the Packers' offensive line, the difference from 2004 to 2005 was noticeable and predictable. Green had nowhere to go and was not able to show any burst because the offensive line lost the continuity it built over the previous years. The offense ran the same plays, but with players that were not as capable as those before them.

In 2006, the offensive line should be better and more mobile with a new blocking scheme in place. New offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski brings over a scheme from Atlanta that produced the No. 1 running attack in the NFL with a virtual no-name offensive line. Green should be excited about the possibilities.

As for the severity of his injury, Green is ahead of pace in his rehabilitation. History has proven it is difficult to come back from the type of injury he had, but the rest he got last year was the perfect medicine for his career going forward. Furthermore, Green is one of those "Packer people" that head coach Mike McCarthy wants on his team. He lives in Green Bay all year and is one of top backs in team history.

"I'm glad to be back," said Green. "Green Bay pretty much is where everything started for me."

Green has plenty of motivation to succeed next year. Quietly, he cannot wait to answer his critics.

"Whoever hits me for the first time whether practice or game time is not going to like me," he said.

Green will be pushed by the nature of his deal. When he signed a relatively modest five-year deal in 2001, he outplayed his contract as one of the top three running backs in the league. He would have been in line for a bigger deal had not the disappointment of 2005 taken place. With other backs like Samkon Gado looking to take Green's spot this training camp, Green knows this season will define the rest of his career in the NFL.

Call it a hunch, but Green will be back this year as a No. 1 running back. A new coaching staff, a new blocking scheme, and a better offensive line are just what he needs. His soft-spoken demeanor around the locker room may not show it, but inside he is determined to make 2006 another productive year.

Matt Tevsh

Editor's note: Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to and Packer Report. E-mail him at

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