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James Starks To Get His Shot?

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James Starks To Get His Shot?

It would sure seem that way.

When asked at his afternoon press conference if rookie running back James Starks was "...ready to come up" McCarthy responded:

Well, he’d better be. He may have an opportunity this week.

After the press conference, running backs coach Edgar Bennett expanded on Starks in general and his possible playing time this weekend against the 49ers:

He continues to get better. … He needs to continue to work on his fundamentals and get comfortable with what we’re asking him to do. It’s been extremely positive. All of the situations we’ve put him in – certainly some extremely competitive – he’s stepped up to the challenge. We see this kid continue to improve. At some point, like coach mentioned, he’ll probably get an opportunity.

I am certainly intrigued to see what Starks can do. The Packers must think he has some real talent to have even kept him on the 53 after his stint on the PUP. But McCarthy is right - he better be ready, especially in pass protection. Fans have been clamouring for Starks (trust me - my Twitter and email confirm this) Many don't understand what the hesitation is in playing the rookie out of Buffalo.

The problem, as it always is when it comes to the Packers and Mike McCarthy's offense, is pass protection. McCarthy and offensive coordinator Joe Philbin are fanatical about ensuring that the protections and those assigned to them are rock solid before sending them out onto the field. Many fans wondered what took so long to get Dimitri Nance on the field - I can guarantee you his ability to demonstrate that he had the pass protection calls down cold was high on the list of reasons. The same goes for James Starks.

The other much-discussed reason for the Packers cautious stance with Starks is the lack of game action he has seen. The kid put football pads on for the first time in two years just over two weeks ago. Most players need at least a good week to get acclimated to the hitting of training camp, and what Starks has been getting in practice doesn't even come close to the hitting he would have seen in camp, let alone in preseason games. An undoubted worry for the Packers is that Starks, with his upright running style, will simply take too much punishment too quickly.

All that said, the Packers seem enamored with some aspect of his game. Philbin, while noting the upright running, cited Starks' hands and "...instincts that are hard to teach and hard to drill into somebody." It's hard not to get excited about that, but if Starks misses so much as a quick chip on a linebacker Sunday, you can bet McCarthy will put him right back on the bench.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (53) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremy's picture

If Starks gets the kind of blocking that Jackson got against Atlanta it won't matter how talented he is.

hyperRevue's picture

What he said.

We can close the comments now.

zub-a-dub's picture

Starks is the only rookie at this point in the season, all the others in his draft class have 11 games, 4 preseason games, and training camp under their belts.

Above his pass protection, I worry about fumbling problems.

just not a wise move to use him.

Adam Czech's picture

I'm rooting for the kid, but if Starks makes a positive impact down the stretch I will eat my computer.

Greentiger74's picture

Can we hold you to that? lol!

I'd like to see him do well but I'm not sure if there is enough left in the season for him to have any real impact on the game. Didn't it take Grant nearly half the season to evolve after we traded for him?

packeraaron's picture

People like to bring up the Grant comparison, but as I mention above, Starks didn't go through a training camp. Grant did. Starks hasn't been practicing all season. Grant did. In fact, Grant saw his first action from scrimmage during the Week Two matchup with the Giants, when he caught a screen pass for a decent gain (If you can believe it) - They're just two completely different scenarios.

RickyBobby's picture

SO YOU'RE SAYING HE'LL BE EVEN MORE FRESH THAN GRANT WAS! DAMN - THIS KID'S GONNA BE EXPLOSIVE!

packeraaron's picture

That's the spirit.

ZaphodBeeblebrox's picture

Grant may have gone to A training camp, but it was with the Giants, not in GB. And he did little the first 5-6 games (remember the fumble against Minnesota in the dome that almost cost us that game?). I agree that it takes Bennett/Philbin/McCarthy awhile to feel comfortable with a rookie RB...

Ryan's picture

So do you want fries with that? haha

DaveK's picture

Brian Westbrook looks pretty good tonight against a reeling AZ defense. Might have been a better option then keeping three FB's on the roster and I'm pretty sure Westbrook would have had pass protection down on day one.

RickyBobby's picture

he does look good.

FITZCORE1252's picture

I was thinking the same thing. And yes I was calling for it before the season (it's archived). Granted he's just a hit away from retirement , but the price was right for a steady veteran.

GBP 4 LIFE

RickyBobby's picture

might as well give him a shot. whatever it is they're rollin' with right now ain't workin'.

It's broke - try to fix it.

I got a funny feeling about the kid. look at the year to this point...

we thought we wanted barnett to be our starter over bishop. we were wrong.

we thought we wanted burnett and bigby to be ahead of peprah. we were wrong.

we thought we wanted harris over shields. we were wrong.

we thought the bears would be bad. we were wrong.

we thought the 'queens would be good. we were wrong.

we thought the offense would have to carry the defense this year. we were wrong.

maybe it's good we lost to ATL. maybe we're a better team in domes. if they make the playoffs, they could possibly play every game in ideal climate conditions. maybe we just thought we wanted home field advantage. maybe we were wrong.

most don't think starks has a legit shot to contribute much this year. MAYBE WE'RE WRONG!

MORE ADVERSITY!
BRING IT ON!

PkrNboro's picture

I'd like to agree with you... but I could be WRONG !!

Well, with two more on the IR, I feel as if things are getting back to normal. I'm ready for another four game win streak !

I'm ready for roster additions by subtraction -- Francois déjà vu ? ...c'est la vie

thepretzelhead's picture

Five lager post!

DaveK's picture

Ricky Bobby - love that post!

Jmac34's picture

What I got from RickyBobby's post is that we are wrong a lot

Norman's picture

No, you're wrong.

Paul Ott Caruth's picture

I'll go on record here and say that Starks COULD provide the offense with a boost. Simply put....he is a downhill runner that is required to run the zone scheme. One cut and go. He's a nice sized back 6-2 215 or so. The thing with the zone scheme is that it requires one cut by the back....bang or bend it....and the back needs to be decisive...even if the read is wrong. No pitter patter. Once the back decides to take a path he can't change course. Jackson doesn't have this ability...Starks does. People can talk all they want about him not being in training camp or not playing a full year of college ball and such but in 3 years at Buffalo he ran zone and did it well. Zone is zone anywhere you run it be it NFL, DI, DII, DIII etc. Starks is accustomed to this style.
Ultimately, it doesn't really matter what types of runs the Packers use. Fact is, all NFL teams run a mix of zone and gap runs (Power O, Counter). The important point is to have a back that is decisive. Good vision is paramount regardless of scheme and Jackson just doesn't have it. What compounds the problem is that he is indecisive in the zone scheme on some days and on other days he is decisive. Bottom line....he's inconsistent and you can't have that in a back. Running the ball is quite simple. Hit the hole hard even if that hole is only a sliver...don't dance. Alex Gibbs always said "we want a blade of grass...that's it." Eventually the blade of grass becomes a 20,30,40 yard gain in the 3rd and 4th quarters. But that requires a consistent approach from the coach and a committment to run the ball.
So....with all of that said, Starks is the best option to run the zone scheme the Packers implemented under Jags and Philbin when McCarthy got here. They have the back to fit the scheme....Grant fits the scheme as well. However, McCarthy has to be willing to commit to it instead of pay lip service to it. You have to practice the run game as much as the Big 5 sets to develop a sense of timing between your offensive line and backs. I just don't think McCarthy is committed to running the ball. Guess we'll see on Sunday.

nerdmann's picture

I agree. Run to daylight. I like Bjax, but he can be indecisive.

thepretzelhead's picture

Caruth...you needed an eight lane highway if I recall. But good post.

jack in jersey city's picture

does this mean that nance's concussion is pretty significant?

Tarynfor 12's picture

It's about time the Packers woke up from the nightmare at RB.Atl did us a favor by showing MM that you WILL NOT go far in play-offs unless you can run and more important,get that goal line yard without putting your QB against the firing squad wall for target practice.

Piet's picture

Didn't Pittsburgh win the Super Bowl 2 years ago with the 'worst running game' (ypg) in the league?

packeraaron's picture

Yes, yes it did. And the team that was in the Super Bowl with them? Had the second worst.

tyler21's picture

This is true but doesn't everyone like to.watch a good rb? When u see those clips of Hillis crushing someone or Blount leaping over a guy doesn't it make u wish we had a guy like that. I don't know if Starks can really do any of that, but I am tired of watching us pass every snap! The superbowl has been won by teams with bad running games, but most of em have been won by teams with good running games!

Chris's picture

I say we will see more John Kuhn crrying the football next Sunday. Maybe if the Packers blow out the 49ers in the first 3 quarters they will play Starks, but until then they will pass-pass-pass with an occasional draw play.

Norman's picture

I was thinking the same thing. Get a big lead against the 9'ers, then get Starks some game experience and see what he can do. Then we'll know if he's the next Adrian Peterson, or Samkon Gado, or Whisper Goodman.

Being away from real football and meaningful contact for so long his timing is likely to be off, and I worry about the fumbling (whether or not he was a fumbler in college). But a real game is the only place he's going to get the feel for the game again this season.

But most of all, as Aaron noted, I worry about the pass protection. So maybe bring in Flynn the same time as Starks, and take out an insurance policy on Matt before the game.

nerdmann's picture

No one's calling for him to be the third down pass pro specialist. Just throw him some screens and let him do his thing. Which is make people miss and use his speed to get downfield.

Chris's picture

If he is not trained enough to pass protect the opponent will notice this and can always guess the play call being a run when he is in. Of course he would come out on 3rd and long, but you want to go play-action where the RB is supposed to pass protect on first and second downs.

nerdmann's picture

If Nance can get in there his first week or two with the team, Starks should be able to run a few plays. Dude's had the better part of a year to learn the playbook.

jdondlinger's picture

FREE James Starks! I have been a huge fan of Starks and have patiently been waiting to see him get his chance. I'm not saying he should be the starter and get 20 carries right away, but have him active and let him carry it a few times and maybe run a screen or two to him. I fully understand that he has not played since a bowl game for Buffalo back in January 2009, but just watch film of him at Buffalo. The kid is electric. Simply put. I don't know if he can save the run game, that might be more on the O-Line blocking better, but I think he is too gifted of a talent to waste on the inactive list.

nerdmann's picture

Secret Weapon, baby!

Ruppert's picture

"James Starks, you're me hero."

--Cameron Frye

Ruppert's picture

If Starks was truly something special, don't you think we'd be hearing about how he's tearing it up in practice every week?

packsmack25's picture

What's there to tear up? It's not training camp, most of the practices during the season are about preparing for the next opponent, and to this point from what I understand Starks has been working as the "other team's" running back.

Ruppert's picture

He had better be seeing some live tackling. If he is NOT, and the first real, live tackling that he sees will be in an actual game??? Well I'm not sure I want to see him at all, then.

Whether he's running the scout team or whatever, we would still be hearing some very positive information if was actually performing great.

I'm not getting my hopes up.

packsmack25's picture

There are closed portions of practice. I'm still convinced this has been where he might be "tearing it up." The media wouldn't see it or report it if that was the case.

Regardless, he can't be much worse than Jackson and Nance were this past game. Jackson has a lot of wiggle, but he doesn't have the explosive first step that he needs to take those carries where he dances to salvage a 3 or 4 yard gain and turn them into a 20 yard gain. Also, his hesitation on the play where he lost 6 yards on a 2nd and 4 might have cost the Packers a first down and a field goal.

RickyBobby's picture

don't have to worry about him not facing live contact because he's not going to be tackled.

yes - he's that good. TD on every run.

no - i'm serious.

Ruppert's picture

I think the following pretty much sums up the opinion of Starks amongst Packer/CheeseheadTV Nation:

"Oh, he's very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads--they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude."

PackersRS's picture

Let's welcome All Day #2 to the Green Bay Packers.

al's picture

fact, starks sucks. Maybe we can trade him to the vikings for a 2nd round pick.

rickybobby's picture

starks needs a nickname.

i'm going with "Buffalo".

Cole's picture

James "the Spark" Starks

thepretzelhead's picture

If he's all this....his nickname is: The Ring Maker

Ryeguy812's picture

Seriously, what happens if he breaks a huge run on his first carry. He will be Legen......wait for it.......dary!

jdondlinger's picture

If anyone has doubts about Starks ability. Go and watch highlight videos of him at Buffalo. ELECTRIC!

thepretzelhead's picture

I went down that road too, Grasshopper. The Brandon Jackson highlights are even better.

zub-a-dub's picture

As bad as our running game is, IT COULD BE WORSE.

Early in Adrian Peterson's career he made big plays only to take 2 steps back wards with his turnover problem.

The idea of Starks being used at this point of the season is just absurd given how prepared he is.

OUR RUNNING GAME COULD BE WORSE, at least our backs are blocking and NOT fumbling.

Starks may be a better runner, but a couple of turn overs and we are worse off IMO.

Its just not worth it. We almost beat the best team in the NFC in their domed stadium, a red flag thrown and rushing Kuhn on that goal line and the Pack wins that game.

ONE Turnover cost the Pack the Atlanta game, and now everyone wants to put that football in the hands of a rookie who hasn't played in 2 years, missed camp, and all 11 games up to this point.

Its December folks, I just don't see it.

thepretzelhead's picture

He's the Ring Maker.

Dave's picture

I have watched the films of this kid in Buffalo. All you could see was a man loking, seeing cutting and gone. Remember the choice for him not to play his Senior year was help along by his head coach Turner Gill actually thinking about the kid rather than his record for the year. he played for 3 years in Buffalo and old most of the rushing records. He has soft hands and sturdy hands. They lock like a vise to the football. I think he will be fine. He does have to learn the blocking schemes for pass protection. If any of you watched one of McCarty's press conferences before the Minnesota game he made the comment about Starks playing Adrian Peterson for the week and that he did a "very Good " job of it. Give the kid a chance before you sell him down the road.

packeraaron's picture

Pretty sure I didn't "sell him down the road" - in fact, I wrote I was intrigued to see what he could do.

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