Notebook: Grant's Forgettable Night

Standout running back Ryan Grant coughs it up and gets his bell rung; the battles continue at left guard and punter; plus more from Saturday's preseason opener.

Ryan Grant has played a lot of good football for the Green Bay Packers, but Saturday's preseason opener will be one to forget — literally and figuratively.

On his first carry of the preseason, Grant got stripped and turned the ball over. It was a stunning play for a man who hasn't fumbled away the ball on a running play for 291 consecutive regular-season carries dating to 2008. Then, on his second carry of the Packers' next possession, Grant was stopped for no gain and departed after a blow to the head.

"Once I came back to the sideline, I was all right," Grant said. "I knew the wobble made me look out of it. But as I was talking to the doc and he was like, ‘Do you want to go down?' I was like, ‘No!' He was like, ‘All right, let's walk.' I said, ‘Just give me a second. I'm OK. I'll be all right. I know I got my bell rung.' He asked me what the play was, and I said it was an inside zone to the right. I said, ‘Somebody hit me.' Once I got to the sideline, they were asking me, ‘How do you feel?' I said, ‘Mostly, I feel all right. I feel like I got my bell rung.'"

Grant didn't think it was a concussion, and felt far worse about the uncharacteristic fumble. Not only was it a turnover, but offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said the play was blocked well enough for Grant to tear off a big gain.

"I thought I was going to squeeze through, really," Grant said. "I thought they had it blocked up well, and I thought I had something. I've just got to do a better job of ball security with that. That's not a trait of mine. I take that very serious, that's the number one priority, and I think that sets the tone as a backfield. So that's unacceptable."

Grant and his primary backup, Brandon Jackson, each finished with three carries for 6 yards. With the running game going nowhere against a Browns defense determined to stop it, coach Mike McCarthy happily turned Aaron Rodgers loose.

"I didn't come in saying I wanted to run it or pass it," McCarthy said. "I think in today's game, especially in the preseason, their defense came in with a lot of pressure as their emphasis, which is excellent work for our offensive football team. I thought our first, really, first three quarters, with Aaron and Matt and the protection unit and the run blocking, it gives us some really good looks on the tape that we can learn from. To play against our defense every day in practice and then to come out here and see the amount of pressure we saw tonight, those are good things to help you prepare because I can promise Philadelphia is going to pressure us in Week 1. So there is going to be a lot of good film to learn from."

Left guard

Incumbent starter Daryn Colledge and first-round pick Bryan Bulaga alternated series at left guard until veteran left tackle Chad Clifton departed after the fourth series. At that point, Bulaga moved to left tackle and Colledge stayed at left guard, where they stayed through the rest of the first half. Bulaga played the first series of the third quarter at left tackle before being replaced.

"It's going to take a little while to get comfortable at guard. I just moved there Monday," Bulaga said. "It's going to take more snaps, more reps to really get feeling good out there. That was game action out there at guard, so I've got to get adjusted to those type of things, but I thought overall I did some good things, but made some mistakes."

McCarthy didn't say whether the rotation would continue this week at practice or for Saturday's game at Seattle.

"Me and Bryan have a great relationship off the field," said Colledge, who started. "When we go out there, we compete. He's trying to get a job done and so am I. But I'm competing with myself right now. I've got a lot of starts. Right now I need to find a way to get better for me every single week, and that's what I plan on doing. I felt good about tonight, I did good things with what I got. I've got a few things that need to be corrected, but I felt like I played strong tonight."

Injuries

Other than Grant, the only injury of note was to tight end Tom Crabtree, who exited in the second quarter with a hand injury. X-rays were not definitive.

"They might've seen something on the X-ray, that's why they're doing the scan tomorrow," said Crabtree, a training camp surprise who is battling for a roster spot. "It's something that's been bothering me for a couple weeks now. I've been getting it wrapped and trying to stay out there and play. The last punt return I was in tonight, I went to block the guy and I couldn't grab onto him. So, I told them I had to get it X-rayed and that way I'd know if I could come back or not."

Quarterback Matt Flynn took a couple of big shots to his midsection but played through the pain.

Those who were held out: Atari Bigby (ankle), Will Blackmon (knee), Al Harris (knee), James Starks (hamstring), Alex Joseph (quad), Clay Matthews (hamstring), Cyril Obiozor (calf) and Jason Spitz (calf).

Good and bad with punters

Based on average, Chris Bryan and Tim Masthay finished dead even. Both punted three times for 142 yards, or an excellent 47.3-yard average. Bryan, however, had the superior net, with a 41.3-yard average compared to Masthay's 35.7. Masthay had the best punt, though, with a 42-yarder that was saved by Charles Dillon and downed by D.J. Clark at the 5.

However, their last punts will leave a poor taste. Bryan's 42-yard net looks pretty on paper but it was short, low and kicked so poorly that it wasn't returned. Masthay's final punt was a low 44-yarder that was returned for 15 yards.

"We needed some big punts there in the fourth quarter to change the field position and we did not get that part done, so that was a negative," McCarthy said.

Four-point stance

— Rodgers was brilliant, finishing 12-of-13 for 159 yards and a touchdown. Rodgers, sensing a corner blitz that would leave Greg Jennings alone against a safety, made the call that led to their 25-yard scoring play.

Spencer Havner finished second on the team with five tackles and added two catches for 8 yards.

Brandon Chillar is battling for a starting job at outside linebacker but looked exhausted by the end of the game — a casualty of injuries at the position.

"We've got four guys and you've got a guy that hasn't played the position before so you're going to try to get him more reps, just because he needs the time at that position," defensive coordinator Dom capers said. "Obviously, we're going to try to take care of all these guys but we've got four guys and you've got to play the game with four guys."

— There is no practice on Sunday, with the players getting back to work at 2 p.m. on Monday.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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