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Revenge not on Grant's mind as Packers RB prepares for Giants

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Another player might spend the week building it up in his mind as the ultimate way to say "I told you so," a chance to stick it to the team that traded him on the big stage.

But it doesn't seem to be that way for Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant as he prepares to face the New York Giants in Sunday's NFC Championship game at Lambeau Field.

A week before the start of this season, New York dealt Grant to Green Bay for a sixth-round draft pick. What a steal for the Packers?

While Grant admits he might be "a little bit" more fired up to play his former team, the trade worked out so well for him, how could he hold a grudge?

"It was nothing personal," Grant said. "There were no hard feelings toward the organization in New York. I take the positive out of every situation, and there were a lot of things that I learned from there. And I feel like if I didn't learn that, I probably wouldn't be in the situation I am today."

Still, Packers coach Mike McCarthy plans to pull Grant aside this week just to make sure his young running back isn't getting too wound up.

"I think he'll be fine," McCarthy said. "I don't think he'll be one of those guys that will be so revved up that he'll go the other way. I know this is a big opportunity for him. But he's a focused young man."

Grant took over as the Packers' featured back in Week 8.

His emergence since has given the pass-happy Packers a two-dimensional offense. He was the leading man last week, rebounding from two early fumbles to finish with 201 yards rushing and three touchdowns in Green Bay's victory over Seattle.

But even if Grant isn't using revenge as motivation, Giants defensive end Michael Strahan wonders whether the move will come back to haunt them. Especially after New York struggled to stop the run in its playoff victory at Dallas on Sunday.

"I am upset Ryan Grant is not with us," Strahan said. "He is a bull. He runs like a bull. We have our work cut out for us. We gave up too many yards (against Dallas) rushing. He is probably licking his chops with the opportunity to play against his former team. That's one of those guys you look at and you think, we let him go and we let one get away."

Grant said he was "shocked" when the Giants traded him, soon after telling him he had made the team.

But New York's backfield was crowded with good players going into the season. Grant hadn't played a regular season snap in his first two years in the NFL. So when the Packers called, the Giants listened.

Grant said his former teammates were stunned.

"I know that when they found out I had been traded, a few guys kind of said, 'What?" -- kind of a reaction of 'Why would you do that?,'" Grant said. "They didn't know, and I guess they felt they didn't want me to go. But they understood how it works."

Giants running back Brandon Jacobs said Grant is a "tremendous guy" with talent.

"He's done well for Green Bay," Jacobs said. "I think that was a great move for him. I think that served him very well, and he's done well for them. He rushed for over 200 last week, and he's been playing very, very solid football."

But Grant knows that support only goes so far.

"I'm pretty sure that will stop come Sunday," Grant said. "I know it's nothing personal and we're competitors and I expect that."

A sharp cutback runner with speed and the size (6-1, 218) to break tackles, Grant and the Packers' improving run-blocking unit has taken some of the pressure off Brett Favre.

"In a short period of time, he's showed everyone in the National Football League that he he's one of the best power backs in the league," Packers wide receiver Donald Driver said.

He reminds folks in Green Bay of former Packers back Dorsey Levens; he even wears the same number, 25. Driver first noticed the similarity in the Packers' Week 2 victory over the Giants, when Grant caught a screen pass, spun off a defensive back's tackling attempt and rumbled for 21 yards.

"He runs like Dorsey," Driver said. "I just told him to get me to a Super Bowl like Dorsey."

But Grant's ability wasn't immediately apparent to Packers coaches, who went into the season expecting Vernand Morency to take the job.

But Morency hurt his knee on the first day of training camp, so the Packers gave rookies Brandon Jackson and DeShawn Wynn chances to start in the first seven games. Grant only got a chance to carry the ball consistently in the Packers' Oct. 29 game at Denver because Wynn left the game with an injury.

Grant responded with 104 yards rushing, the first of five 100-yard performances in the regular season. He went on to rush for 929 yards between Week 8 and the end of the regular season. Only San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson had more with 947.

Not too bad for a guy who spent the entire 2005 season on the Giants' practice squad, then sat out the 2006 season after he sliced his hand open on broken glass after falling at a social event.

Grant doesn't say much about the incident, other than that it taught him not to take anything for granted. Although Grant doesn't yet consider himself a star, he has at times paused to reflect on his rise.

"Every day I count my blessings and just really go out there and work as hard as possible and get better each day," Grant said. "Every once in a while -- I try not to look at the past, I try to more forward, but every once in a while, I go, 'Oh, it's been a long year for me."'

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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