The Packers spent nearly half the season and went through audition after audition with four guys. Better late than never, though, they found a way to keep Brett Favre's right arm from becoming unhinged.
Ryan Grant just might go down in team annals as the savior in an unbelievable season that could have an improbable ending.
"Ryan's making all the right decisions and reads," center Scott Wells said.
As the NFC North champion Packers (11-2) go to St. Louis this weekend, Grant has transformed in less than two months from low man on the halfback pecking order to most prolific back in the league. His 717 rushing yards since Week 8 are 49 more than that accrued in the same span by second-place LaDainian Tomlinson of San Diego.
Grant is coming off yet another personal-best performance. He rushed 29 times for 156 yards in the 38-7 destruction of Oakland on Sunday.
The 29 carries are three fewer than rookie Brandon Jackson had combined in the first two games of the season as the featured runner. Back then and up until Grant was summoned to carry the load Oct. 29 at Denver after a string of injuries to the other backs, the Packers had little faith in their running game.
As proof, head coach/play-caller Mike McCarthy went all in with Favre, having his 38-year-old quarterback throw the football an average of 41-plus times in the first six games.
Favre's career- and league-high 613 pass attempts last season aren't being threatened anymore. His per-game average has dipped appreciably to less than 31 in the last seven contests.
Such is the impact Grant has made. The nearly 21 carries he's been getting on average in this torrid stretch have been no less essential than his four 100-yard games have been a godsend for what was the league's worst rushing attack five weeks ago. The Packers have ascended to 23rd in the 32-team circuit.
"I think the attempts is probably the most important statistic outside of the actual production in the run game because when you're able to run the ball that many times, you're accumulating first downs," McCarthy said. "So, just to have the opportunity says a lot."
Grant's self-deprecating nature won't allow him to take the credit for pulling the run game out of a long hibernation. He doesn't consider the ample opportunities he's had to carry the football as evidence that McCarthy has more trust in him than the other backs.
"I just think good things are happening. From an offensive standpoint, we have to stick with it," Grant said. "We are starting to execute and starting to get on the same page across the board from an offensive standpoint. We feel when we do that, we are in a good position and it's hard to stop us."
Barnett appears in court
Should the Packers get to the Super Bowl, linebacker Nick Barnett won't be distracted by any legal matters.
A trial in Outagamie County (Wis.) Circuit Court for Barnett, who was charged with two counts of disorderly conduct for an alleged incident at a bar in June, was postponed from a scheduled start date of Jan. 29. A pretrial hearing will be held March 4.
Barnett pleaded not guilty to both charges in a court appearance Tuesday. He declared outside of court that his situation has been "blown out of proportion."
"My lawyer might be mad at me for saying this right now, but I don't feel that it warrants this charge," Barnett told reporters. "But, we'll see what happens.
"I think it's blown out of proportion, definitely. Not only just case-wise, but me being a Packer football player has a lot to do with it being blown out of proportion. If my name was Joe Rodriguez or something, you guys wouldn't be interviewing me -- no knock against Joe Rodriguez."
Remmel bows out after 62 years
Lee Remmel, whose knowledge about the Packers franchise is unrivaled, will ring in the new year in retirement.
The team historian and former public-relations director announced this week that he would end a 62-year relationship with the club. His last day on the job will be Dec. 31.
"It's time ... and then some," Remmel, 83, said.
He has been affiliated with every head coach in the Packers' 89-year history, starting with Curly Lambeau.
Remmel covered the team for 29 years with the Green Bay Press-Gazette and then worked the last 33 years in the Packers front office. He made the transition from PR director to team historian in 2004.
"Lee Remmel is a classic. I've never been around anybody like Lee," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. "People like Lee are so special because they have lived through so many decades and generations of this sport, especially with the history of the Green Bay Packers. He is someone special to this organization. A very unique individual."
Linebacker up for league award
Linebacker Brady Poppinga is the team's selection as the 2007 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.
Poppinga, along with 31 honorees from the rest of the teams, is up for the league award, which will be announced during Super Bowl week in Arizona. The winner will receive $25,000 to be donated to an organization of his choice.
Poppinga received $1,000 as the team recipient. He's donating the money to the Invisible Children organization, which supports school children in war-torn areas of Uganda.
Blackmon receives weekly league honor
CB Will Blackmon was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week on Wednesday. He's the fourth player in league history to have a punt-return touchdown and a fumble-return touchdown in the same game. Blackmon scored on a 57-yard punt return and recovered a fumble in the end zone in the 38-7 win over Oakland on Sunday.
BY THE NUMBERS: 9 -- Touchdown passes of at least 80 yards thrown by Brett Favre in his career, an NFL record. Favre has two such long strikes this season, both to Greg Jennings, who had an 80-yard score in Sunday's win over Oakland.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I tell you, centers don't like me, man. Centers do not like me. It's just because they have to deal with me. I'm not saying I'm the greatest player in the world, but when you've got to deal with a guy that's running all over the field making your fat butt tired, I wouldn't like it, either. I might poke myself in the eye."
-- Packers middle linebacker Nick Barnett, who accused Oakland center Jeremy Newberry of intentionally poking him in the left eye Sunday. Barnett and Detroit center Dominic Raiola had a verbal exchange in the tunnel before the teams' Thanksgiving Day game this season.