Just before chaos broke lose in the NFL last Friday, we spent some time discussing an underrated issue facing the Green Bay Packers. As coach Mike McCarthy mulls schematic changes in his running game, we asked a more basic question: Who is going to run the ball for the Packers in 2012?
As we noted, veteran Ryan Grant is a pending free agent and is expected to test a market that opens Tuesday afternoon. Injuries have made James Starks a part-time player over his first two seasons, veteran John Kuhn is best used as a utility runner and there are no other proven runners on the roster.
So it's worth noting that, Monday morning, Grant told ESPN 540 in Milwaukee that there is a "good chance" he eventually will re-sign with the Packers. "I think everyone knows that's my ideal situation," he said.
Grant said he has discussed his 2011 role as a platoon player with coach Mike McCarthy. Without getting specific, Grant indicated he was satisfied with what the Packers would have in mind for him in 2012.
"I think it was a learning process on both ends," Grant said of a season in which he was on the field for about a third of the Packers' offensive snaps. "... We had a great season, we can't knock what we did. It worked. There are going to be some evaluations on how we use the running game and different things. But I want to win. My number one priority is winning. Do I feel like I could have had a more extensive role? Of course. And I wanted them to know that and feel confident with that. I think they do and that's why the want me back from a leadership standpoint and what I can do on the field."
In the end, Grant's return almost certainly rests on whether the right team is willing to make him their unquestioned No. 1 running back -- and pay him as such. If all things are relatively equal, the guess here is that Grant will return to the Packers. The fun begins Tuesday afternoon.