GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -The Green Bay Packers' rushing numbers are up from the same point in the season last year.
That's not saying much, however.
Through four games, the Packers have struggled running the football and even holding onto it, so greater attention is being made in practice this week to try to rectify the situation.
``We do more before and after practice now because that's what you have to emphasize,'' running backs coach Edgar Bennett said Thursday. ``So, we'll continue to emphasize that and correct the problem.''
The issue of ball security has been a focal point in the extra drills on the practice field.
Running back Ryan Grant has fumbled the football away in Green Bay's last two games. Both turnovers were caused by direct hits from a defensive player on the ball.
``It's frustrating to see it two weeks in a row,'' offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. ``We've got to have better pad level on contact. We've got to keep two hands on the ball when we're in traffic.''
Buccaneers' 30-21 win over the Packers on Sunday.
Grant also fumbled on the second play of the game the previous week against Dallas, which handed the Packers their first loss.
``What it boils down to is fundamentals,'' Bennett said. ``We have to clean up our fundamentals. I say we because it's my responsibility to make sure we're always functioning at a high level as far as from a fundamental standpoint.
``Those two plays, we were not. And, we are cleaning that situation up. It's more fundamentals.''
The recent miscues have magnified the struggles the Packers have endured in running the ball this season.
They are averaging 93.5 yards per game, ranking 23rd in the NFL.
Green Bay also is in the bottom half of the league with an average of 3.9 yards per carry.
Veteran right tackle Mark Tauscher didn't pinpoint one area as being a trouble spot.
``We have to block up better up front,'' he said. ``I think it's a unit thing, it's not just one guy. Everybody up front needs to play better. Everybody involved running backs, tight ends, offensive line has to execute better.''
The execution has been surprisingly off with Grant as the lead back. Grant led the league the final three months of last season, including the playoffs, with 1,159 rushing yards.
injury early in the preseason after signing a lucrative multiyear deal, Grant has been far from productive.
He's gained a total of only 186 yards in four games, averaging 3.4 yards per carry.
Grant has been held to 20 yards in 15 carries twice in the last three games.
``I know for sure some of it is what's been out in front of him (with the blocking) hasn't been great a lot of times. It's hard to make yards,'' Philbin said. ``There were certainly times last year when he made yards on his own, which every good back does.''
Philbin noted how Green Bay's running game was in a bigger quandary after four games last year.
The Packers were mired at the bottom of the league rankings with averages of 54.3 yards per game and 2.7 yards per rush. Then-rookie Brandon Jackson, not Grant, opened the season as the main back.
``To say Brandon Jackson wasn't running the ball well there, that would be part of it maybe, but certainly not the whole story,'' said Philbin, adding of the apparent causes for the struggles this season, ``I think it's a little bit of everything. I think it's some of our blocking. Some of it has been execution. Our offensive balance and our flow hasn't been as good.''

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