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Yes, a non-Favre topic: The Packers' backfield

6/8/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Many of you were miffed that I failed to address a question with Green Bay implications in this weekend's mailbag. My apologies. Nothing personal. Simmer down.

There actually is a Packers-centric topic I wanted to address, and lo and behold, Ross of Boston sent in a matching question:

Kevin, Am I the only one who smells a RB controversy/competition in Green Bay? Brandon Jackson is a healthy second round pick coming into his third year, and Grant is coming off a disappointing season... Any news?

Ross, I have a hard time believing the Packers will enter the season with anyone other than Ryan Grant as their No. 1 tailback. I do think it's reasonable to expect coach Mike McCarthy to spread the carries around a little more than last season.

Grant signed a four-year contract last summer worth $20 million and went on to take 83 percent of the 374 carries Green Bay gave to its running backs last season. Grant rushed 312 times, fourth-most in team history, while Jackson was next with 45.

Here's what McCarthy said last week on the topic:

[Grant] is the primary runner, so that's part of his job responsibility. But I think there's a lot of competition. I think Brandon Jackson did a lot of positive things for us last year with his opportunities. DeShawn Wynn jumped on the scene, had some production. Really, the way the season goes has as much to do with that as really the planning. You always plan to utilize all your players. [Kregg] Lumpkin is definitely a guy, he's making some noise, and I think everybody will be excited once the preseason games start to see him healthy and ready to go. To sit here in June and tell you the percentage of the carries of our running backs I don't think would be realistic. Ryan, there are some things he can do better and we're working on those things throughout the spring. He's done a great job. He's been a full-time member of the offseason program.

In some ways, the Packers will be pursuing the same goal that Chicago is hoping to achieve with tailback Matt Forte. Neither team is looking to replace its starter but would like to get more runners involved. Not only does it keep the starter fresh, but it provides an important change of pace to stretch out opposing defenses.

What does that mean in Green Bay? Providing he stays healthy, Grant will get the majority of carries. But in an ideal world, I bet the Packers would love to double the number of carries their No. 2 runner gets this season.