GREEN BAY – Alex Green isn’t ruling anything out. When you come back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in less than nine months and manage to get medical clearance for the first day of training camp, well, there’s no reason to let the word can’t enter your vocabulary.
So even though he’s still getting limited action in training camp, still on a pitch count with his snaps, he’s not limiting himself in any way in terms of his expectations – including winning the Green Bay Packers’ starting running back job.
“I think anything’s possible,” Green said Sunday afternoon in advance of practice. “I don’t put a limitation on anything, injured or not. Right now, I’m just trying to find my role in the offense, and get back to 100 percent. Just keep working hard and help the team out.”
When the Packers released their unofficial depth chart on Saturday, Green was in the third spot at running back, behind incumbent starter James Starks and Brandon Saine. And in the team’s annual Family Night Scrimmage on Friday night, Green only touched the ball twice – on a run off left tackle that was wiped out by a Jermichael Finley holding penalty, and a 1-yard run during the starting offense’s final drive of the night.
“They’re trying to keep me somewhat limited,” Green said. “I feel as close to (100 percent) as I can at this time frame in the process. Probably seeing when I get more live action, I’ll be able to put a percentage on it, once I get more live reps.”
The issue, of course, is getting those reps. Green is hopeful that he’ll get a fair share of snaps in the preseason opener Thursday at San Diego, but he knows the medical staff is being understandably cautious with him, despite his accelerated recovery.
“It’s going to be excited to get out there again and play in an actual game, just to get the feel of things,” Green said. “As of right now, I’m just focused on getting better each day, so when it comes to that time, I’m ready to go.”
Green tore the ACL in his left knee during a kickoff in the Packers’ Oct. 23 victory at Minnesota (and underwent reconstructive surgery on Nov. 16). It just so happened that coach Mike McCarthy and then-offensive coordinator Joe Philbin had installed a package of plays in the offense specifically for Green. While it was disappointing to never run those plays, Green said he also took the package as a positive sign.
“It was a little more difficult, just because I knew I was going to get a little more chance to play than I had been,” Green said. “But it was one of those things that actually pushed me more to get back on the field, because I knew I would contribute to the team. I wanted to get back that much faster and stronger.”
Green, whose ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and elusiveness with the ball in his hands, only carried the ball three times (for 11 yards) in his four games of regular-season action, but on his one reception – a 6-yarder at Atlanta on Oct. 9 to convert a third-and-2 – showed those qualities. Presumably, McCarthy would like to put those skills on display more often in his diversified, weapon-laden offense.
“Watching the tape on him (from last year), he’s an extremely explosive, talented guy,” new running backs coach Alex Van Pelt said. “I’m excited to get him back in there in the mix.”
A third-round pick from Hawaii, where he led the nation in yards per carry (8.2) as a senior, Green feels he’s regained most of his explosiveness. He’s now in the process of regaining the confidence he needs mentally to trust Dr. Pat McKenzie’s surgery fixed the knee. During one practice last week, Green took a hit that helped that process.
“Obviously we’re not really going full or tackling, but I got tackled in one practice on my left knee, my reconstructed knee. And it kind of scared me at first,” Green said. “But me getting up and running off and finishing the play, I realized ‘OK, it’s still here and it’s not going to buckle on me.’
“The more reps I get, the more confident I’ll feel knowing that if I get hit on my knee, it’s not going to give out or anything like that.”
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today,” and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.