Running back role reversal

Jackson and Lumpkin excelled against Detroit while Grant was kept under wraps. With Grant slowed by his troublesome hamstring, McCarthy says Lumpkin has earned more playing time.

Usually, Ryan Grant isn't just part of the running game; he is the running game.

It was a different story on Sunday at Detroit, however, with Grant rushing for a meager 20 yards on 15 attempts while backups Brandon Jackson (seven carries, 61 yards, one touchdown) and Kregg Lumpkin (one carry, 19 yards) averaged an eye-popping 10 yards per carry.

Grant, who was held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday as he recovered from a hamstring injury sustained in training camp, simply didn't look like the same back who scorched the Vikings' touted defense in Week 1, even though he was facing a run defense that was trashed by Atlanta the week before. Coach Mike McCarthy, however, didn't attribute it completely to being rusty, noting a lack of practice time didn't slow Grant against Minnesota.

"I think any running back, they need to see the looks, they need to get in a rhythm and the timing and fits and everything with the run-blocking unit," McCarthy said during his day-after news conference on Monday. "So, it's a product of not having some of the better looks the other guys had, but also he needs to practice and get into a rhythm."

Jackson, who was held to 12 yards on seven carries against the Vikings, on Sunday looked like the back the coaches raved about during the offseason. When he got space, he showed power, explosion and decisiveness. His 19-yard touchdown run, which gave the Packers a 34-25 lead, came one possession after his dropped third-down pass near the 5-yard line forced the Packers to settle for a field goal.

"I was hurting after that drop," Jackson said Sunday. "Normally, I would never drop balls like that. Just coming back and learning from the mistakes, just trying to make a play."

Meanwhile, Lumpkin took advantage of his first regular-season playing time. The undrafted rookie from Georgia seemingly gets better every time he gets on the field, starting with an uninspiring performance in the Family Night Scrimmage and his game-killing fumble in the preseason opener. While Jackson had two drops, Lumpkin caught three passes for 22 yards.

"Absolutely," McCarthy said when asked if Lumpkin had earned more playing time. "I can't say enough about him. I feel like I say the same thing every time you ask about Kregg Lumpkin, but he has taken advantage of every opportunity he has been given here. He had a plus performance in the opportunities that he had. He's physical. There are some technical things that he can learn from and he'll improve on. I definitely felt that he improved on an individual basis and he contributed, and I feel very comfortable going with all three running backs."

Even with that comfort, McCarthy said he's not considering putting Grant on the bench for a week or two to get the hamstring healthy. McCarthy said the decision to play Grant will be based on the report from Dr. Pat McKenzie, and according to McCarthy, McKenzie said Grant came out of the Detroit game OK.

"If we need to sit him down, we'll sit him down," McCarthy said.

Until then, having Jackson and Lumpkin at least gives McCarthy the option of reducing Grant's snaps. Grant has 27 carries in two games; he had that many attempts in a single game twice last season.

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