Grant has incentive

At last, one positive about Favre saga: Ryan Grant's contract dispute went unnoticed. Grant earns cheers during his first practice on Tuesday.

Ryan Grant plunged through a hole on the left side of the line and scored a touchdown during Green Bay's red zone segment Tuesday.

And then something funny happened.

The legion of fans in the left corner of that end zone cheered at full throat — the same band of fans who were booing Aaron Rodgers moments earlier.

As Brett Favre's lingering melodrama continues to darken the black eye on all parties involved, there was one silver lining at the Packers' Ringling Bros. practice Tuesday. Grant is back. The team's starting running back, who burst onto the scene last season, ended his weeklong holdout on Saturday. Grant signed a four-year deal with Green Bay that could pay up to $31 million if he reaches all incentives.

In addition to a $750,000 base salary this season, Grant will receive two roster bonuses. One is for $3 million and the other is $500,000. Incentives could come into play next year, when Grant will see at least $3.75 million.

The sticking point between Grant's camp and the Packers was the back's white-space filled resume. The treads on his tires are a little glossy.

For eight games, Grant was the second-best running back in the NFL with 929 yards and eight touchdowns. But still, it's difficult to justify a multimillion-dollar contract on the basis of eight games. His playoff roller coaster (201 yards, three touchdowns vs. Seattle and 29 yards vs. New York) further complicated matters.

Only one solution seemed palpable for both parties — the incentive-laden contract, which escalates based on performance. For Grant — an adamant team-first guy — it was the perfect deal.

"It felt good. I'm earning my money," he said. "If I perform the way I should perform, it will work out."

In any other year, Grant's holdout would have made 72-point, bold-font headlines. After all, it can be argued it was Grant, not Favre, who carried the Packers as the weather worsened. But with the daily Favre Watch dominating attention, the running back's rift with management flew under the radar.

Grant received the contract he was shooting for and eased into camp as a footnote — without being perceived as the stereotypical cash-hungry holdout villain.

Sometimes it pays for the spotlight to be on someone else.

"It didn't hurt," Grant said. "I think people kind of understood (the situation). I wanted to be in camp. I wanted to play ball, but the situation didn't allow me to at that time. I'm glad I'm moving forward and that I'm in."

Dollars and sense never filtered into the football side of things, Grant said. He came to the organized team activities and minicamp practices to stay on page, and even during the past week of training camp, running backs coach Edgar Bennett sent Grant scripts from practice. He knew what plays and what formations were being covered every day at camp.

Physically, Grant said he "practiced" twice a day under the instruction of four trainers.

"I wanted (Bennett) and Coach McCarthy to know what I was doing and that I was taking care of my end," Grant said.

After Tuesday's practice, Grant seemed relieved more than anything. Questions about his agent's harsh criticism of the team ("That's his job.") and his reaction to finalizing the deal ("A lot of smiles and hugs with the family.") poured in relentlessly.

But a relaxed Grant returned to one common thread. Contract talks are in the past. Camp is ahead.

"Now I can just focus on football," Grant said. "I never let (the contract) become too much of a concern for me because I didn't have control of it. Now that it's behind, I can just focus on what I'm here for — to play ball."

Tyler Dunne is a regular contributor to and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at

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