The way Ryan Grant sees it, he shouldn't be too bitter. Sometimes, players aren't welcomed back to the Green Bay Packers. Sometimes, things get messy.
"I believe there was somebody else that didn't come back that tried to come back, another guy on this team," Grant said. "It's part of the game."
So Grant says he was never vindictive. The veteran insists he was confident this day would come. And now that it's here, Grant is hoping to prove he isn't the stereotypical aging, fading, damaged-goods 30-year-old running back. After losing three running backs to serious injuries, the Packers finally reached out to Grant this week. James Starks is out multiple weeks with a knee injury.
Grant didn't speak to reporters from a locker on Wednesday. Because, well, he doesn't have one in the main locker room yet. For now, he's in the back room where the practice-squad players roam.
Of course there's something to prove.
"Any football player who hasn't played football," Grant said, "the minute they get a chance to play football, they have a little chip on their shoulder. Talk to anybody in this position and that's how they'll play. This is a competitive sport.
"I don't really like watching football from a spectator's stance."
On Sunday night -- the day he turns 30 -- Grant won't be a spectator. Coach Mike McCarthy said he does expect Grant to be ready for the Packers' game against the Detroit Lions. He won't be carrying a full workload anytime soon. But he won't be a Christmas ornament, either.
That much was clear when Grant walked into the Packers' gym walkthrough Wednesday morning and the team gave him a standing ovation. Grant shrugged the ovation off as "a joke," whereas quarterback Aaron Rodgers assured it was "legit."
It just took a while to return. Grant spent a month with the Washington Redskins, receiving a grand total of one carry. And he also had workouts with the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears and New York Giants. Nothing stuck. When asked if it was humbling not to get any offers, Grant cut in and said, "nobody said I didn't come out with an offer."
Still, he was without a team, a job from Oct. 23 to Dec. 4.
"It would be humbling if I thought it couldn't happen to me, but I've never thought of it from that place," Grant said. "This is the nature of what I do. It's performance-based. I think we have one of the highest turnover rates in the country as far as business-wise. So guys are in, guys are out."
Guys usually are "out" at running back when they reach 30, 31, 32 years old.
Grant admits there's some "good reason" for trepidation from general managers, yet believes he can buck the trend. Grant has historically kept himself in great shape and -- as he pointed out Wednesday -- he took a different path here. Undrafted out of Notre Dame in 2005, Grant didn't carry the ball once his first two seasons. In 2010, he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the opener.
There's 925 carries of tread on Grant's tires. By comparison, the 29-year-old Benson has carried the ball 1,600 times.
After the Redskins released him, Grant continued to work out, play chess, read books such as Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers," and work out some more. At no point did Grant believe his career was over.
"I didn't think I was going to be out of football that long," Grant said. "That's just how it goes. You just prepare yourself with what you can do."
Expectations should be tempered. Grant hasn't been played extensively in a very long time. He's merging into rush-hour traffic. Second-year back Alex Green is expected to shoulder the majority of the carries.
Still, with more than 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns, Grant has the pedigree and credibility.
"He's been a part of a lot of big victories," Rodgers said. "He's as tough as they come, he runs as hard as anybody, especially in the winter months and he's made some big plays for us over the years."
In 2010, Grant missed a Super Bowl run. For 2012, he's here. Whatever. Grant isn't buying the fairy-tale irony.
For him, it's about right now.
"I didn't come here for a feel-good story," Grant said. "I came back here to help this team and contribute."
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