In what could be classified as a mild surprise, the Green Bay Packers have activated rookie running back James Starks from the PUP list.
In order to make room for Starks, they have released first-year linebacker Robert Francois who played in three games this season, mostly on special teams.
Starks hasn't played in a game since January of '09 in the International Bowl with the University of Buffalo. He missed his entire senior season with a broken collarbone.
The sixth-round draft choice missed a majority of the offseason workouts with a hamstring injury and then re-aggravated it immediately before training camp in late July.
He was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list and forced to sit out of the first six weeks of the season. He was then allowed to practice the past three weeks with the Packers before they had to make a move.
The only other option was to place the rookie running back on injured reserve, in which case he would have been lost for the season, or cut him in hopes he could be placed on the practice squad. But that would also risk losing him to another team on waivers, a chance the Packers likely didn't want to take.
It's somewhat surprising that the Packers made the move considering he hasn't played a game in almost two years. Of course, the Packers aren't required to play him. He very well could be part of the gameday inactive list for the rest of the season.
Suddenly, the Packers have a lot of depth at the running back position. It was thought that if the Packers happened to activate Starks, they may part ways with backup Dimitri Nance. Instead the Packers have Starks and Nance in addition to starter Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn at halfback. And they continue to have Korey Hall and Quinn Johnson at fullback.
When Robert Francois was inactive this past weekend against the Cowboys, it showed that he had fallen down the depth chart behind new acquisitions Diyral Briggs and Erik Walden despite only being around for two weeks.
In that regard, the Packers didn't lose much at the expense of keeping James Starks around.
It's noteworthy that Starks has been practicing as a kickoff return specialist, although that job seems to be Sam Sheilds' for the moment being.
The Packers also cut safety Michael Greco from the practice squad. It's possible that the move could have been made to make room for Francois if he clears waivers.
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