Grading the Packers: Running backs, fullbacks

PackerReport.com's Todd Korth continues with his individual evaluations of the Green Bay Packers by assessing the team's running backs and fullbacks:

Ahman Green: The veteran had a pretty good season considering the circumstances. He came off a major quadriceps injury while adjusting to a new zone-blocking scheme. Then three games into the season, he injured not one but both of his hamstrings and missed two games.

Still, Green finished with 1,059 yards rushing on 266 carries for a healthy 4.0 per carry avg. Green became the first Packer to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season six times and is 45 yards shy of Jim Taylor's all-time career rushing record of 8,207 yards for the Packers.

Green has been criticized for fumbling during his career, but in 2006 he went a span of 225 offensive touches (197 carries, 27 receptions) between Sept. 24 and Dec. 31 without fumbling the ball away.

Green turns 30 on Feb. 16, but he showed in 2006 that there is plenty of life in his legs to warrant a decent contract offer by the Packers, or other NFL teams. His 70-yard burst for a touchdown against Miami on Oct. 22 proved it.
Grade: B

Vernand Morency: The scat back was acquired by the Packers in a trade with the Houston Texans for Samkon Gado after the season opener. Morency has proven to be a perfect fit for the Packers' zone-blocking scheme and the perfect complement to Green.

Morency started for the injured Green on Oct. 2 at Philadelphia and rushed for 99 yards. He also gained 101 yards against Arizona Oct. 29, rushed for 69 yards on just 7 carries (9.9-yard avg.) against San Francisco Dec. 10, and scored two touchdowns at home against Detroit on Dec. 17. Morency finished with 434 yards on 96 carries for an impressive 4.5-yard per carry avg.

In short, Morency made the most of his opportunities.
Grade: B-

Noah Herron: The second-year pro rushed for 106 yards on 20 carries Oct. 8 against St. Louis, but that was his only shining moment in 2006. From that point on, he was beat out by Morency for the backup spot behind Green and was buried on the depth chart as the team's third-down back. He also was a mainstay on special teams.

Herron finished with a total of 150 yards rushing on 37 carries for a 4.1-yard avg. and one touchdown. He also caught 29 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns.
Grade: C

P.J. Pope: He was signed off the Chicago Bears' practice squad on Oct. 31. He played in one game and did not have any carries. He played Nov. 12 at Minnesota and had one tackle on special teams.

Pope gained a team-high 153 yards on 40 carries (3.8 avg.) during the preseason with the Bears. Look for him to get a chance to compete against Herron for a roster spot as a third-down back in 2007.
Grade: Incomplete

Arliss Beach: The rookie from Kentucky had a strong training camp, averaging 4.5 yards per carry (58 yards on 13 attempts), but injured his ankle and was placed on injured reserve on Sept. 2.
Grade: Incomplete

Fullbacks
William Henderson:
Henderson finished his 12th season with the Packers and may be able to play another season, but don't count on it. The veteran was replaced by the younger, more effective blocker in Brandon Miree early in the season. Though he is under contract with the Packers, it would not be too surprising if he was released by the team this off-season. Still, Henderson served as a valuable blocker on special teams and a player that others looked up to in the locker room.

Henderson declined to talk about his future with the team a day after Green Bay's regular season finale against Chicago, but he did say that he was going to spend more time with his family and work on his future as a television football analyst.
Grade: C-

Brandon Miree: He was signed to the Packers' practice squad on Sept. 4 after he was in the Denver Broncos' training camp, then promoted to the 53-man roster on Sept. 25. Miree, with experience in the Broncos' zone-blocking scheme, received a chance to start Oct. 22 at Miami and Oct. 29 at Arizona, but sustained a hyper-extended elbow and missed the next three games. When he returned, he still seemed bothered by the elbow injury.

Miree will have every chance to start in 2007 for the Packers, but look for the team to sign free agents and possibly use a versatile tight end to challenge Miree for the starting fullback spot.
Grade: C-

Vonta Leach: He was placed on waivers by Green Bay on Sept. 12 when the team signed wide receiver Koren Robinson. Leach was a good blocker, but had hands of stone.
Grade: Incomplete


Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.


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