Is Green's return a good thing?

Veteran running back gives Packers good depth, but that's about it

Much has been made about running back Ahman Green's return to the lineup Sunday in Miami, but I'm here to tell you Green's return is a story, but it seems to have gotten overblown.

Green is one of three Packers running backs who have each gained at least 99 yards in a game this season, as well as showing the ability to fumble. Green's return does give the Packers some comfort, knowing the only experienced back on the team is healthy, for now.

He becomes a reliable receiver out of the backfield, in addition to being a blocker on pass plays, if needed. But Green's return doesn't mean this offense will find a different gear.

Since the start of 2005, Green has displayed a lack of speed we all saw him with in prior seasons. He's not the same back.

His return this week, more than anything, gives the Packers a stable of backs who each can make plays. Green is not the same back who in 2003 ran for a club record 1,883 yards.

It's funny how perspective changes the way people think about players. Prior to the regular season, there were whispers Green was clearly on the downside and there was an outside chance he could get cut, if he didn't show he was fit after suffering a season-ending quadriceps injury last year.

He then gains 110 yards against the vaunted Bears defense, shows he's healthy for a few games and he's the second coming of … the vintage Ahman Green.

During Green's absence, let's not forget this, Vernand Morency gained 99 yards on 26 carries against a solid Eagles defense, and against St. Louis, Noah Herron gained 106 yards.

This indicates a few things:

First, the offensive line is catching on to the zone blocking scheme. It has to be if three Packers backs have rushed for 99 yards or more.

Second, this tells us each of these backs is capable of carrying the load for at least one game.

Third, it tells me Green's return isn't a major deal.

If San Diego's LaDanian Tomlinson is a 10 on a scale of 1-10, then Green is a 7, but headed in a downward direction.

Green's return for the Dolphins' game organizes the Packers' backfield, but that's it. The Packers claim Green will get 15-20 rushes Sunday. That's all he should ever get.

With his health always a question, giving him the ball more than that puts him at risk. With him, the Packers can rotate the three backs and keep them all fresh. In turn, this will make Green more effective. But to suggest his return is a major boost to the offense … I don't buy it. Not when Herron and Morency have each showed the ability to gain similar yardage.

Green gives the Packers depth at running back, but that's it.


Doug Ritchay

Editor's note: Doug Ritchay is a longtime sportswriter and former Packers beat writer for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. E-mail at dritchay@sbcglobal.net.


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