Morency's experience a big advantage

Vernand Morency took time after his morning workout today to speak with PackerReport.com managing editor Todd Korth about his preparation for the upcoming season. Morency, who will be featured in the upcoming issue of Packer Report magazine, seems ready as ever to take over for the departed Ahman Green.

To say Vernand Morency is ready for the opportunity ahead in training camp is an understatement. The third-year running back said he began training for this season since a few days after the regular season finale on New Year's Eve. He's in tip-top shape mentally and physically, and ready for the inevitable - competition.

With Ahman Green in Houston, the door wide open for the starting spot in the backfield, and Morency is focused on picking up where Green left off for the Packers. First, though, he will have to beat out a stable full of young running backs eager for the main job.

"My thing is I'm here. I want to be that guy," Morency said. "I am working to be that guy. It's a 16-game season, plus the playoffs and preseason. It's a long season. To me, it's a good deal, as long as it works. With a two-back system type of deal it helps with longevity and, two, depth, three, you've got fresh legs in there constantly. I definitely embrace it, but I'm the kind of guy that likes to get 25 carries a game and still be strong in Week 16 and in the playoffs."

Morency came to Green Bay via a trade with Houston last September. He proved to the Packers that he is tailor-made for the team's zone-blocking scheme. In his first-ever start for an ailing Green last October, he rushed for 99 yards against the Eagles. Though he fumbled his way out of the rotation in the next game against St. Louis, Morency came back a few weeks later and rushed for 101 yards against Arizona before injuring his back.

Is Morency a lock for the starting running back position? No, but the experience that he has gained in the NFL in the past two seasons certainly gives him a big advantage over second-round pick Brandon Jackson, and holdovers Noah Herron, P.J. Pope and Arliss Beach.

Morency said he hung around with Green and veteran fullback William Henderson as much as possible last year, "taking notes" and preparing himself mentally to succeed like they did with the Packers.

"I want to be where (Green and Henderson) have been," Morency said. "I want to go across the water (to the Pro Bowl). I want to do those things, not just for myself individually, but from the team's standpoint. When we're running the ball down somebody's throat, we're winning ballgames."

Morency said that he has been lifting weights and working on his foot speed. When asked about his latest 40-yard dash time, he shrugged it off. Speed is wonderful, but the experience he has gained of reading blockers and hitting openings at precisely the right time outweighs a great 40 time.

"The 40 (yard dash) is overrated to me," Morency said. "When you're on the field you just got to go. My main thing is being quick between the tackles … the first 10 steps, first 20, you want to be able to accelerate and burst. That's what I've worked on."

Jackson will present Morency with a formidable challenge. Jackson displayed striking quickness and ability to burst through a hole during the team's Rookie Orientation Camp last weekend. Jackson probably will get opportunities simply because he is the team's second round pick. He'll have a chance to compete against Morency in training camp for the starting job. It will be fun to watch both backs battle.

Will Jackson beat out Morency? Let's see how they both hold up in training camp. Then if they are still neck and neck, give Morency the edge based on his experience.


Todd Korth

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


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