Ryan Grant: Will Injury Open the Door for James Starks to Shine?

Joseph HealyCorrespondent ISeptember 26, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 18:  Running back James Starks #44 of the Green Bay Packers rushes upfield against the Carolina Panthers September 18, 2011 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The Packers' offense reached a huge crescendo during their win over the Chicago Bears Sunday afternoon.

Aaron Rodgers was being, well, Aaron Rodgers, Jermichael Finley looked more like a wide receiver than a tight end with all the big plays he was making and Ryan Grant was having his best game of the season.

Grant left the game briefly, but he returned to the field before the final whistle blew. The Packers were truly clicking on all cylinders.

However, when the Packers' doctors and training staff took a longer look at Grant's injury they found something more serious than they had originally thought. Grant had suffered a bruised kidney.

With Grant possibly missing a good deal of time, the door has opened for James Starks to be the every-down back.

In a story in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, head coach Mike McCarthy expressed uncertainty about Grant's status saying, "McCarthy said running back Ryan Grant suffered a kidney bruise against the Bears and his status won’t be known until later in the week."

I have never suffered a bruised kidney, but it sounds like it hurts. It also sounds like something that's frustrating to deal with. Since it is not an injury you can treat outwardly, there's really no telling how long it will last.

Grant had struggled in the first two weeks of the season, so Starks had already been getting his share of carries. In that extended trial, Starks had been pretty solid.

In Week 1, Starks carried the ball 12 times for 57 yards and a touchdown. In Week 2, he had nine carries for 85 yards.

Clearly Starks is comfortable with this offense and let's be honest, with Rodgers and the passing game in top form, they won't be asking Starks to do a whole lot.

In the short term—with realistic expectations for his production—Starks will be just fine.