Don't worry about Grant, at least not yet

Running back is one position where a player can get back into the groove quickly, according to's Doug Ritchay.

Because of the Brett Favre saga, little has been made about running back Ryan Grant's holdout from training camp. As an exclusive-rights free agent, he's basically locked into Green Bay, but the sides have not reached agreement on a multiyear deal that would bump Grant's pay considerably from the one-year tender of $370,000.

Some are worried, with the Packers' lack of experienced reserves at running back, that this could be a problem. I disagree.

All you have to do is look to last year, when Grant basically rode the bench the first half of the season, only to explode the final half and lead everybody in rushing in the NFL not named LaDainian Tomlinson. He did this after coming to Green Bay from the New York Giants after training camp was over.

True, he had camp with the Giants, but he didn't have any camp or offseason work with the Packers. Yet when inserted as the starter, the running game went from one of the worst in the NFL to one of the best.

Running back is the one position where you don't need a ton of preseason snaps to be ready for the regular season. It's a position where, if you know the playbook, and I assume Grant does, the fewer carries in the preseason, the better for the starter.

San Diego doesn't even play Tomlinson in the preseason, for fear of injury. Not to compare Tomlinson and Grant, but the Chargers know it's better for LT to shake off the rust in Week 1 of the regular season than Week 2 of the preseason.

Some would argue Grant needs the work. Maybe. However, the practice work and getting into football shape is more of a concern. In his spot, if he gets a few carries in the final two preseason games, he should be ready for duty.

Going this route, he's fresh and healthy, making him eager to back up his 2007 coming-out party.

Therefore, Grant's holdout is not a bother. Yes, he should be in camp. He's been a starter for half an NFL season. He hasn't "earned" the right to hold out.

Even coach Mike McCarthy isn't sweating it out. "He did a very good job in the offseason program of staying on top of everything that was added, just doing all of the little things, the one-on-one time with his position coach, Edgar Bennett. I think Ryan will be fine. Once again, we are looking forward to getting him back here."

As McCarthy pointed out, it's not as if Grant was gone all offseason. He watched every offseason workout from the sideline and at least was there for meetings, amongst other things.

His place on the roster is more important this season than last because Aaron Rodgers is a first-year starter at quarterback. Any quarterback, especially a veteran, will tell you having a running game to balance the offense is essential for success.

If the Packers have Brandon Jackson toting the ball in Week 1, Rodgers may wish for Brett Favre's return to Green Bay. Not having a respected running back will allow defenses to tee off on Rodgers, which would be tough on a first-year starter.

So, Grant's holdout isn't a big deal right now. It's early August. The regular season opens Sept. 8. There's time for both sides to agree on a deal.

If he signs in mid-August, the holdout will be a nonfactor for 2008.

Running back is the easiest position (excluding kicker and punter) to hold out, walk in and make it work. Not that Grant should be taking this route, but in the end, it should all work out.

Doug Ritchay is a frequent contributor to E-mail him at

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