GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If it wasn't for the daily twists and turns of the Brett Favre unretirement saga, this would be considered a really big deal: Ryan Grant does not have a contract in place and skipped the first practice of Green Bay Packers training camp Monday.
Grant, an exclusive rights free agent, is seeking a long-term deal with the Packers, but talks appear to have broken down.
Grant, obtained in a trade with the New York Giants just before the start of the 2007 season, took over as the starter in midseason. He rushed for 956 yards and eight touchdowns. Grant then rushed for 201 yards and three touchdowns in the Packers' divisional playoff victory over Seattle.
"It's a negotiation. It's ongoing," Packers general manager Ted Thompson said. "We do not negotiate in the press. We don't think that serves a purpose. We aren't necessarily offended by the fact that some agents like to do that. But we're working through it.
"Ryan is a good man, a good player, and we're going to try to get him back in here. "
Thompson didn't offer a timeline: "It's sort of, the cake is cooked when it's cooked."
Packers coach Mike McCarthy praised Grant's approach to the contract situation during the offseason, when Grant participated in the Packers' offseason workout program but sat out practices. McCarthy said it was important for him to get into camp.
"These practices are important," McCarthy said. "I think everybody realizes that. My understanding is both sides are working diligently to make this work. I appreciate the way Ryan went about the offseason and kept on top of everything we did here. I'm just looking forward to getting Ryan back here."
Until then, Grant's absence means additional practice repetitions with the No. 1 offense for a group of running backs that includes Brandon Jackson and Vernand Morency.
"Right now, I just have to worry about myself," Jackson said. "I hope for the best for Ryan. I hope he gets his contract done so he can come and join the team again. But, right now, I'm just focusing on what I have to do as a running back to help the team get the job done."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press