GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Ryan Grant spent all of last season trying to get back on the field. Now that he's there, he doesn't want to leave -- even with a bruised kidney.
"I feel fine," said Grant, who left Soldier Field in an ambulance as a precaution following his 17-carry, 92-yard performance in the Packers' 27-17 victory over the Chicago Bears last Sunday. "I guess that doesn't mean anything."
After missing the team's run to the Super Bowl with a season-ending ankle injury in the 2010 opener at Philadelphia, Grant was the Packers' starting running back in name only during the first two games this year. In those two games combined, second-year back James Starks -- the savior of the running game late last season -- played 82 snaps to Grant's 32; while Starks gained 142 yards on 21 carries, Grant carried 15 times for 65 yards.
Against the Bears, Grant got an opportunity and ran with it. He had six runs of double-digit yards and two more 9-yarders, shining on plays designed for his one-cut-and-go running style. Starks carried 11 times for 5 net yards and lost a fumble.
"It's definitely frustrating," Grant said. "I think it's even harder because of me sitting out so many games last year. I don't want to miss a game at all. But I kind of have no say in this. It is what it is."
With 11 minutes left in the game, Grant took a helmet in the back from Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, and in obvious pain he went to the sideline, where he collapsed to his knees. But when the Packers offense went back on the field four minutes later, there was Grant, who wound up carrying the ball three more times. When he got back to the locker room, he went to the bathroom and saw blood in his urine.
"I'm like, 'Oh, that can't be good,'" Grant said.
After the hospital trip, Grant wound up coming home to Green Bay separate from his teammates. By Wednesday, coach Mike McCarthy was talking as if Grant is a longshot to play against the Broncos.
"What happens a lot of times when you have injuries and then players are trying to get ready to play, they're of the opinion they'll be ready to go by Sunday," McCarthy said. "Our medical staff is not of the same opinion."
McCarthy said Grant will have until Friday to show that he's healthy enough to play, but he quickly added that Grant "will be pressed to make this game."
McCarthy has said all along that he would go with the hot hand at running back, and in order to get those carries, Grant needs to be on the field.
"Ryan Grant is an attempt runner. That's what he is. He's a bull. You've got to give him the ball; he gets better as the game moves forward," McCarthy said. "I don't think the defensive players probably enjoy tackling him a lot because it's a blow-for-blow type running style. . He had a heck of a day and played through some pain."
And given how much Starks struggled against the Bears, Grant recognizes there is an opening for him to reinforce in the coaches' minds that he deserves more playing time.
"Coaches know that it's not about what you did in the past; it's about what you do in the present," he said. "So how I played (against Chicago), if I started out that way against Denver, that'd dictate how the game goes. Especially how our run game is with (McCarthy). His confidence in the run games builds if we start fast as a team running the ball. ... Trust me, if I can go, if they allow me to go, I'm going to go."
Grant and right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) both sat out practice for the second consecutive day. They will be evaluated again on Friday. . Outside linebacker Clay Matthews (quadriceps) and cornerback Pat Lee (back) returned to work on a limited basis. . Linebacker Jamari Lattimore was added to the injury report with a shoulder injury. . Injured defensive end Mike Neal, out since Aug. 16 with a knee injury, said he's hoping to return before the team's Oct. 30 bye week.