The good news Thursday night is Ryan Grant finally saw some action in a preseason game ... for all of one play. The Green Bay Packers were so protective of their starting running back that he had more of a chance to injure himself by slipping and falling in the shower than on the football field.
Why did Grant even suit up?
Sure, it's important to protect your star players, but to the point where they're not even tackled once in the preseason? Including practice? It simply didn't make sense that Mike McCarthy quickly pulled Grant and the rest of the first-team offense after Aaron Rodgers' 68-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Greg Jennings on the first play of the preseason finale.
McCarthy undoubtedly didn't want to see any of his starters injured in the final preseason game. But Rodgers and most of the first team offense also played three other preseason games.
Grant, who injured his hamstring in his first practice back with the team after holding out for a long-term contract, has had no contact in the preseason. He said earlier this week that he was looking forward to getting hit and hitting defenders in the preseason finale. That's what running backs do, but Grant was denied an opportunity to get back into the flow for the first time since last January.
Even he was surprised after the game.
"A little bit, but I've got to take the positives out of it," Grant said diplomatically. "Did I expect one play? No, I didn't, but my legs are fresh and I'll be ready to go."
Could keeping Grant idle Thursday night come back to bite the Packers? It's very possible. The intensity from the preseason to the regular season will be turned up a few notches starting Sept. 8 for Green Bay and Minnesota. Speaking of the Vikings, they're pretty good against the run.
Running backs always seem to do better when they're in "football shape." However, Grant is far from being in football shape. He's in good, physical shape and free of bruises, aches or pains but so are supermodels. You can't help but think of running backs, like Dorsey Levens, who have held out for better contracts only to get injured upon their return in the regular season.
Grant is a tough cookie. With any luck, he will avoid an injury that will keep him out an extended period of time, but it seems that McCarthy short-changed Grant at helping him get in football shape in preparation for the regular season opener Sept. 8 against Minnesota.
"I feel good. I'm healthy," Grant said. "I've probably got the freshest legs out of everybody in this locker room. So, you've got to look at the positives. My body's feeling great. I've just got to focus on the little things. I need to be very detailed this workweek. I'm sure I'm going to tell the defensive guys, 'Don't be afraid to bump me a little bit.'"
Todd Korth writes for PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.