Grant may miss preseason opener due to hamstring injury

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- First running back Ryan Grant held out. Now he's held up, this time by a nagging hamstring injury that's costing him valuable practice time.

Height: 6-1

Weight: 224

College: Notre Dame

Experience: 2

In the midst of the Brett Favre saga, the Packers' biggest on-the-field problem was probably Grant, the featured back who missed a week of training camp before agreeing to a four-year contract potentially worth $30 million.

Now the prized-but-pricey player has been on the sidelines for two straight days with a hamstring injury that coach Mike McCarthy characterized as slight. Grant's availability for Monday night's exhibition opener against the Cincinnati Bengals remains in doubt.

"If he can go, I would like to see him go," McCarthy said.

Grant stayed in Green Bay throughout the team's offseason workout program, meetings and practices even though he didn't participate in them. He hasn't said much about his latest setback.

He appeared Saturday for a moment in the locker room with the media and said he'd come right back. He never returned, opting to go in for treatment on his ailing muscle instead.

Grant, acquired for a sixth-round pick before last season from the New York Giants, climbed the depth chart to the starter's role in the second half of the season and made the most of it by running for 956 yards and eight touchdowns.

He added 201 yards and three more scores in a playoff victory against Seattle in the snow, but Grant could be slipping from his role just as quickly.

"He needs to practice, obviously with the time he has missed with his contract and now with his injury," McCarthy said. "He definitely needs reps."

Vernand Morency, Brandon Jackson, DeShawn Wynn, Noah Herron and undrafted rookie Kregg Lumpkin have been getting more practice time with Grant's absence.

Grant's ailment highlights another problem that developed during Favre's jet-setting departure to New York -- the Packers are being hit hard by minor injuries. A total of 16 players missed at least one practice the last two days and defensive tackle Daniel Muir got kicked in the shin toward the end of Saturday's session.

"Every decision will really be based on the health, because I would like to see them all play," McCarthy said. "It's important for us to get some momentum, to get out there and play some live football. You don't want to be going through the preseason and feel like you have work that needs to be done in games 3 and 4."

Injuries have made for some interesting combinations along the offensive and defensive lines with starters on both sides missing. Center Scott Wells has missed a week with a strained muscle, with Jason Spitz taking his place. But McCarthy is more concerned with the defensive line that is missing starting defensive tackles Ryan Pickett (hamstring) and Justin Harrell (back), along with defensive ends Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (knee) and Jeremy Thompson (stinger) and defensive tackle Johnny Jolly (hip flexor).

"We're definitely going to have a problem there," McCarthy said of the defensive injuries. "I don't consider any of them major. We're just running into our fatigue injuries which most teams run into at this point."

Other starters that missed practice with injuries were cornerback Al Harris (back) and wide receiver Greg Jennings (knee).

"It's feeling like a back, it's cool," Harris said. "If they need me, I'm here."

Notes: QB Aaron Rodgers declined to say why he fired his agent, Mike Sullivan, earlier in the week. "It's kind of a personal matter, and I'm going to keep that personal," he said. ... Others missing practice included LB Desmond Bishop (Achilles' tendon), S Charlie Peprah (hamstring), G Junius Coston (back) and T Orrin Thompson (ankle). ... Former North Carolina coach John Bunting was at training camp. Bunting went 27-45 as a coach over six seasons from 2001-06 for the Tar Heels. ... Former quarterback Ron Jaworski was also at practice. Jaworski played with Bunting from 1980-82 with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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