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Green to come back strong


The 2007 season proved to be a series of frustrations for running back Ahman Green. The Texans signed the former Packers star in early March to ignite the team's running attack, but a knee injury sent him to the sidelines where he stayed for the majority of the season.

Starting strong
Green started the season strong, providing the combination of speed and power the Texans' offense had been craving.

In the home opener against Kansas City, the four-time Pro Bowler racked up 96 yards on offense, rushing for 73 yards on 16 carries and catching four passes for 23 yards in the Texans' 20-3 win.

After the game, quarterback Matt Schaub said Green's efficient runs were key to picking up first downs and taking pressure off the play caller.

"It is huge when you can get yourself in a second-and-five or six yards," Schaub said. "Then a play caller can reach in and call anything, because you got a manageable situation rather than having a second and ten or second and eleven. It is huge that you've got a guy like that, that knows where the holes are going to be and how to run the football."

Green followed that performance with his best outing of the year in Week 2 against Carolina. Green ran 15 times for a game-high 71 yards and a 13-yard touchdown, his first as a Texan.

The 10-year veteran, however, was forced to leave the game early with a sore knee, an affliction that would haunt him the rest of the season.

A turn of events
The following Sunday, Green started in the Texans' home game against the Colts, carrying the ball four times for five yards and catching two passes for 11 yards before the his knee took a turn for the worse. Green left the game wincing in pain, knowing his knee would have trouble holding up over 16 games.

After the loss to Indy, Green saw limited action in three games and missed 10. The chronic swelling and nagging soreness in his knee would not subside.

Green was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 7 and finished the season with 70 carries for 260 yards.

{QUOTE}It wasn't the productivity that he or the Texans had anticipated.

"We have to get consistency in who's running the football," head coach Gary Kubiak said. "We went out and we chased that last year in free agency with Ahman. Of course, that did not work out with his injury this year, so that was extremely disappointing for our franchise and the steps that we have taken."

Coming back
Kubiak said the running back's injury won't require surgery and rest will get Green back to full speed.

"We're counting on Ahman coming back and being 100 percent," Kubiak said. "He can be a huge factor for our team when he is.

"I expect when we get started April 2 he is 100 percent. His teammates, all the guys who have been sitting in this room with him, have been counting on him. Nobody knows that more than him. There are a lot of expectations. There's a lot of ground to make up."

Green is the first one to agree.

"It's very frustrating for myself, my teammates, my coaches, Rick (Smith), Gary, coach (Mike) Sherman, because he was excited about bringing me here," said Green, who played under Sherman in Green Bay.

"All I can do with this offseason is take it one day at a time, because before we know we'll be kicking it off again for the '08 season, mini-camps and training camp again. So I'm going to continue to rehab it, do what I've been doing, resting and building up strength from the ground up and getting ready for next year."

Depth needed
In case Green isn't ready, Kubiak said the Texans will scout young running backs for insurance purposes.

"When you're missing things and guys are hurt, you can't just all of a sudden sit up there today and look at a roster and say, 'Well, we'll be OK there because he'll be healthy,'" Kubiak said.

"We can't approach things that way. He was hurt. He wasn't there. We have to go out and find some young kids. We have to find some guys that are going to be in it for the long haul and be there. If Ahman is 100 percent healthy and playing every week, then that's a bonus for our team. I just think we have to get some consistency back there."

Green wants to be more than an added bonus next season. He has begun a new rehab program and looks forward to shedding the frustrations of 2007 and shredding tacklers in the new year.

"I'm a competitor out there helping my team out there in every possible way, catching the ball, picking up the blitz, running the ball, things of that nature - just being a leader due to the way that I play and that I practice. That was torture, not being to be able to do that and do it at the level that I like to."

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