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Great Story on Ryan Grant


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Look who's back

Giants run into a good friend when they face Packers' Grant

(Tuesday, January 15, 2008)

BY MIKE GARAFOLO

 

Ryan Grant had to call "his boys" once Sunday's game was over. He just had to extend his congratulations to three of his former teammates with the Giants: running back Brandon Jacobs and defensive ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora.

 

But before he could praise them, all three congratulated him and his Packers teammates for making it to the NFC Championship Game.

 

"I was like, 'Me? You just beat up on Dallas. I should be congratulating you,'" Grant, the Don Bosco grad and former Giants player, said last night when reached on his cell phone. "Both sides are very happy for each other."

 

It's a lovefest for now. But make no mistake, on Sunday, Tuck, Umenyiora and the rest of the Giants' defense will be trying to bury Grant as far under the grass at Lambeau Field as possible.

 

"They just said they're coming for us and they'll be ready for Green Bay," Grant said. "Absolutely, they should be."

 

It has been more than four months since the Giants, overstocked with five legitimate running backs, traded Grant to the Packers for a sixth-round draft pick. If they hadn't, they might have had to cut one of their backs and certainly didn't want to part with Jacobs, Derrick Ward, Reuben Droughns or Ahmad Bradshaw.

 

If they had only known how it might come back to bite them.

 

Fresh off a regular season in which he rushed for 956 yards and eight touchdowns, Grant took it up another notch in the playoffs by shaking off two early fumbles to run for 201 yards and three touchdowns in the Packers' snow-covered 42-20 blowout of the Seahawks.

 

Making quick cuts and cutting all the way across the field on a few plays, Grant showed speed and agility that probably should have gotten him noticed in 2005 when he went undrafted out of Notre Dame and signed with the Giants as a free agent.

 

It's those skills some Giants players wish they had on their side -- even with Jacobs plowing over defenders while Bradshaw scoots past a few as well.

 

"Trust me, I'm upset Ryan Grant is not with us," defensive end Michael Strahan said. "He's a bull and we have our work cut out to stop him.

 

"We gave up too many yards rushing (against the Cowboys), so he's probably licking his chops to have another opportunity against his former team. He's one of those guys you think, 'We let one go.'"

 

Added Tuck: "I wish we'd have kept him. That's my guy. He did a great job coming back from those early fumbles. That's how it's been for him. His career was kind of bad early and now he's one of the best backs in the league."

 

Many of Grant's former teammates still consider him to be their "guy." Actually, Jacobs feels their relationship is closer than that.

 

"That's my brother, man," he said of the two, who were rookies in training camp three seasons ago. "We're just brothers from another mother."

 

And they know each other as well as some siblings do, which is what will make Sunday's matchup between Grant and the Giants' defense very interesting. Certainly, coach Tom Coughlin and the rest of the offensive staff have an extensive scouting report on Grant to hand over to defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

 

"Any time that you have spent time with an athlete, you know him better than you would otherwise," Coughlin said yesterday. "Ryan has had an outstanding year and played extremely well with all kinds of big plays in a really outstanding second half of the season and certainly had a big game the other day.

 

"Other than that we are going to have to contend with the whole (offensive) package."

 

Said Grant, "Maybe there are some really minute details that might help both sides."

 

What about the weather? Not a problem for Grant, apparently.

 

"You never get used to it, but I feel comfortable in the cold," he said.

 

Then again, maybe he thinks the Giants' players won't be comfortable and that it'll be an advantage for him and his teammates. After all, last week he said, "I know, in the back of their minds, they don't really want to come to Green Bay."

 

Grant said he was only kidding around.

 

"It was in a joking manner because not very many people want to come to Lambeau to play," he said. "I know these guys are excited to come up here and play."

 

And they'll have one of their injured players there to cheer them on. Ward, who broke his fibula on Dec. 2 against the Bears, is planning on traveling to Wisconsin to watch the game. Guess where he's staying. Yep, Grant's house.

 

Isn't this all kind of a weird situation?

 

"It was weird the first time around," Grant said of the Packers' Week 2 win at Giants Stadium in which he had only one catch for 21 yards. "I don't think it'll be weird at all."

 

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