GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 19: Alex Green #20 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates a touchdown with a Lambeau leap in the stands against the Arizona Cardinals in a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 19, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Believe it or not, but the health of Alex Green may be the key to the Packers' offense this year. Sure guys like Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, and Jordy Nelson are kind of important; but Green brings something they don't to the table....hope for the running game. Green is probably not going to be a starter, rush for a 1000 yards, or become a central force for the offense in 2012. But, if healthy, he is going to be a critical piece that was missing last year: a threat from the running back position to run or catch. James Starks improved in this catagory last year, but he has struggled to stay healthy. Brandon Saine looks interesting, but the upper end of his ability is questionable. A healthy Green could be the missing piece that rounds out the offense. He would give the Packers a viable screen game and Rodgers a safety valve that isn't just there to make a catch, but also go the distance.
This is a a wonderful thought but, Green's health is going to be an issue. He is coming off a significant knee injury from last year. Right now there is plenty of hope that he will be ready for training camp and week 1, but it's unknown if he will be 100% or how the knee will hold up. The cynical side of me expects a slight disappointment for Green this year with a bounce back year next year. This would be similar to what happened to Jermichael Finley last year (and hopefully this year). If Green can recover quickly though, it could be the secret to the Packers offense not just being great this year, but something special to watch.
Green's depth chart position in 2011 - No. 3 RB
Green's floor depth chart position in 2012 - No. 3 RB: I guess I have to talk about the true floor here. If Green is healthy enough to contribute, but not healthy enough to go consistently then Saine could beat him out. It would be surprising, but not impossible. We are talking about the floor here after all.
Green's ceiling depth chart position in 2012 - No. 1 RB: I'm losing patience with Starks and I hope the coaching staff is too. It's not that Starks doesn't have talent, but RB is a tough position on the body and when injuries start mounting up you have to look for fresher legs. Startks has yet to put in a full season of football at the pro level and missed his last year of college ball to injury too. Not a good sign, and if Green is healthy then it's not unrealistic for him to over take Starks this year. Heck, even if he doesn't overtake Starks this could still happen if a knee or hamstring issue arises for Starks which isn't far from the Packers normal experience either.
Green's stats in 2011 - 3 attempts 11 yards 3.7 average 0 TD 1 reception 6 yard 6 average 0 TD
Green's floor stats in 2012 - 35 attempts 140 yards 4.0 average 1 TD 30 receptions 255 yards 8.5 average 1 TD: Technically I could put zeros here and say that the knee never heals but that's no fun. This is the base stats assuming he plays a role similar to Brandon Jackson circa 2008 or 2009. This means that he's near the bottom of the depth chart and merely a third down specialist.
Green's ceiling stats in 2012 - 130 attempts 585 yards 4.5 average 5 TD 40 receptions 340 yards 8.5 average 4 TD: Pretty high on the attempts yes, but this is working under the assumption that Green hits his ceiling as starting back for a bulk of the year. If he can do that and stay healthy then a dynamic season could be in store for Green.
Projected stats for Green in 2012 - 45 attempts 203 yards 4.5 average 2 TD 35 receptions 297.5 yards 8.5 average 2 TD: I probably should have more attempts here, but as much as I don't think Starks will make it through the whole season I also don't know how healthy Green will stay either. This makes it a wash and I stay closer to the base stats. He should stay in spot duty and third down situations, be in the rotation, but not a central force for the offense.