Everyone's sure to have seen this by now. From Packers.com:
The Green Bay Packers have signed RB Dimitri Nance and DE Jarius Wynn and placed RB
Ryan Grant and DE Justin Harrell on injured reserve.
The news about Wynn and Harrell had been around since Monday, and I wrote about it here.
The news about Grant was unexpected, but Mike McCarthy foreshadowed the possibility on Monday when he described Grant's injury as "significant". The word was telling because he had used the same word to describe Harrell's knee injury on Sunday. Grant himself said in a tweet that he could return this season, but it would put the Packers in a roster bind. I personally would have kept him on the roster, and let OL Nick McDonald go. There's depth on the offensive line, while the promise of Grant returning is too attractive to ignore. But GM Ted Thompson's in charge, he's made his decision, and that's all I've got to say about it.
The ball is firmly in the hands of RB Brandon Jackson now. There's no way to spin it: Jackson and FB John Kuhn don't run like Grant. I wouldn't be surprised if neither runs for 100 yards in a game this season. The running attack has lost something that it can't replace. However the Packers are primarily a passing team and Grant was always a second fiddle in this offense. Jackson remains the best personal pass blocker for QB Aaron Rodgers and is much more dangerous as a receiver out of the backfield. I wouldn't be surprised if this tilts the offense to call even more pass plays, substituting a couple run plays per game with an extra screen pass to Jackson in order to get him into the open field. Grant's absence in no way helps the team, but it's far from a fatal blow.
According to the Journal-Sentinel, they apparently considered signing ex-Steeler RB Willie Parker. He's done, so I doubt he'd add much at this point in his career. The other option was ex-Patriot RB Laurence Maroney, who was traded to the Broncos. He was inactive for week 1 due to a thigh injury, he missed nearly the entire 2008 season, and he's only managed to start 14 games in his first 4 NFL seasons. Can the Packers really count on him? Obviously they decided to look somewhere else.
Let's look at the new No. 2 on the running back depth chart: RB Dimitri Nance. The Falcons fans over at The Falcoholic have said he's called the "Rushin' Russian" and they do seem disappointed that he's gone. In 2009, during his senior season at Arizona State, he ran for 795 yards (4.2 ypc.) and caught 28 passes. According to the Journal-Constitution, Nance was the star of the first preseason game with 2 TD runs. They do have a crowded backfield in Atlanta, and he might have been good enough to stick with many teams. My first choice was for them to sign someone off another team's practice squad, and they apparently got the player they wanted. I'll be anxious to see how he runs.