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 GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -Brett Favre can't help doing a double-take when he looks at Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant.
True, Grant is a former undrafted free agent who was sent to Green Bay by the New York Giants just before the start of the season - and the Packers' fourth choice to be their starting running back.
But Favre still sees former teammate Dorsey Levens.
It starts with the fact that Grant wears Levens' old jersey number, 25, but there's more to it: the 6-foot-1 frame, the powerful running style, and even the Notre Dame connection.
``The number obviously is striking from that standpoint,'' Favre said. ``But he is a big, physical back, deceptively fast. He kind of sneaks up on you. I think his role in our passing game can evolve into what Dorsey's role with us was. But he does remind me a lot of him.''
Packers coach Mike McCarthy sees it, too.
``As far as their frame, their history, their background, as far as where he played college, there are a lot of similarities,'' McCarthy said. ``Brett said it the first week he was here.''
Grant certainly appreciates the comparisons to Levens, a key player on the Packers' playoff teams of the late 1990s.
Hey, it beats being overlooked and injured for two years in New York.
But at the same time, Grant doesn't think a pair of 100-yard rushing games should be enough to anoint him as the next, well, anyone.
``I know what Dorsey did here,'' Grant said. ``He was a great back, and what he accomplished was very big. So I definitely appreciate it. Honestly, I don't know if I'm deserving of it.''
Deserving or not, Grant is the closest thing the Packers have to a reliable running back right now. And as the weather takes a turn for the worse at Lambeau Field, a revival of one of the league's worst running games would help the Packers position themselves for the playoffs.
Grant says the running game is coming around, even if he isn't willing to take the credit.
``Brett's been playing great all season, and we feel like we're in the position to kind of build momentum to kind of take a little pressure off him,'' Grant said.
The Packers have been trying to find a running back to help Favre out all season, without much success.
After Ahman Green signed with Houston as a free agent, projected starter Vernand Morency hurt his knee in the first practice of training camp and has been limited mostly to third-down duty this year.
Second-round rookie Brandon Jackson started the first three games and sputtered, then hurt his shin. Seventh-round rookie DeShawn Wynn started the next four games and showed some ability, but hurt his shoulder in the Packers' Oct. 29 game at Denver.
Grant, who had carried the ball six times all season, replaced Wynn, carrying the ball 22 times for 104 yards against the Broncos' subpar run defense. Grant got his shot at starting in the Packers' next game at Kansas City, but gained only 55 yards on 29 carries.
Then came Sunday's game against Minnesota, where Grant gained 119 yards on 25 carries and scored his first career touchdown against one of the league's best run defenses.
``It's only really been three games,'' Grant said. ``I don't look at it as success.''
But it's more than the Packers could have hoped for after sending a late-round 2008 draft pick to New York for Grant on Sept. 1.
As an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame - Levens played at Notre Dame, too, before transferring to Georgia Tech - Grant signed with the Giants in 2005 and spent his first year on the practice squad. Grant then hurt his hand in the offseason and spent 2006 on injured reserve. He calls his time in New York a learning experience.
``Especially being behind Tiki Barber, I learned a lot being with him every day on and off the field,'' Grant said. ``It let me know that I was hungry, and I still loved the game, and I still wanted to play.''
Now, Grant could turn out to be a remarkable find for Packers general manager Ted Thompson.
``I think all our guys run hard but, I mean, he runs HARD,'' Favre said.
Packers guard Daryn Colledge said Grant gets the hard yards.
``That's something you need in a run game like this,'' Colledge said. ``You need a guy that's willing to get in there, put his head down and get you 4 or 5 yards, and he does that. Every once in a while, we block everybody, and he's got the speed to spring it.''
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