July 28, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Alex Green (20) rushes with the football during training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
Alex Green is not going to enter the 2012 season as a starter, but he will need to stay healthy and perform at a high level for the Green Bay Packers to reach their aspirations this season. He got off to a strong start in 2011 before a torn ACL ended his year and was questionable for the start of training camp, but he's made every practice and, according to those who have attended practices, there do not appear to be serious problems with his knee.
The Packers used James Starks and Ryan Grant as running backs 1a and 1b last season. Starks will almost certainly see the bulk of the touches and snaps at that position this season, but there are certainly durability concerns about him, and his ceiling as a receiver is much lower than Green's. The Packers shouldn't rely on Starks like a workhorse back, and Green should take some of the load off while also providing a change of pace.
Follow me below the jump for the things you should be watching for from Green during Family Night.
1. His cuts - Green is still big and he can still catch the ball. His straight-line speed probably wasn't affected much by a knee injury either. The thing to watch for is how sharply he can make cuts on his surgically repaired knee and how much faith he has in his body to make the moves required for an NFL running back.
2. His play as a receiver out of the backfield - We all know that Green can catch, but he hasn't been asked to catch the ball out of the backfield frequently in game situations yet, but he's going to be asked to do that this season. He'll probably get plenty of screen passes, swing passes and passes on checkdowns during his time on the field tonight. Keep an eye out for how he catches the ball, how he runs his routes and how he uses his blockers in the open field.
3. His pass protection - Anyone who is trying to win a job as a regular third down back in the NFL needs to be a great pass blocker. He's going to need to recognize blitzes and have both the toughness and technique to pick up guys on the blitz who are much heaver than him and who are running at full speed. Pass blocking is equal parts intelligence, technique and toughness. By all accounts, he has all three, but we need to see it.
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