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Running Back Tandem Proving Effective

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Running Back Tandem Proving Effective

Through the first five games of the season, the Packers are one of only two teams in the NFL that have a running back tandem both rushing for at least 175 yards joining Houston's Arian Foster and Ben Tate.

James Starks leads the team with 250 yards on 57 carries (4.4-yard average) while Grant has gained 175 yards on 39 carrries (4.5-yard average) so far in 2011.

Those numbers might even be higher had Grant not missed the Week 4 game against the Denver Broncos with an injury.

Not since the days when Edgar Bennett and Dorsey Levens co-existed have the Packers had an effective running back duo like they have now in Starks and Grant.

Sure, there's been years when they've had to go to with running back by committee approach like they did last year when Grant was lost for the year due to injury and a combination of Starks, Brandon Jackson, John Kuhn and Dimitri Nance filled in.

But for the first time in more than a decade, the Packers appear to have two running backs who are equally effective.

Pretty much since the Packers acquired Grant in a trade back in 2007, he's been both options 1 and 1A in the Packers running game.

When Grant became the unquestioned starter for an entire season beginning of the 2008, he received over 83% of all the carries among running backs in '08 and over 75% in '09.

But as long as both Grant and Starks remain injury free this season, the split in carries figures to remain fairly equal.

The current running back duo isn't going to have anyone conjuring up visions of Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung in the same backfield, but there's no doubt they've been effective and have taken pressure off the Packers' effective passing game.

The Packers currently rank only 22nd in the NFL in the run department averaging exactly 99 yards per game, but they also rank No. 13 in the NFL with 15 rushes of over 10-plus yards so far this season.

By comparison, the Packers ranked No. 22 in the NFL last year with 41 carries of 10-plus yards over the course of the entire season.

Individually, both Starks and Grant have had their moments in the spotlight.

In Week 2 at Carolina, Starks ran for 85 yards––a regular season career high for him––on only nine carries (9.4-yard average), which included a career-long 40-yard scamper on one rush.

That performance was the highest rushing total by a Green Bay running back on fewer than 10 carries since DeShawn Wynn ran for 106 yards on seven attempts against Detroit back in 2008.

As for Grant, his 92-yard effort on 17 carries (5.4-yard average) in Week 3 against the Bears was the most rushing yards he's had since putting up 97 against Seattle in December of 2009.

Combined with Kuhn, who seems to get either a first down or a touchdown every time he touches the ball in short-yardage situations, the ground game has helped the Packers become one of the top overall offenses in the NFL ranking No. 4 with 438.6 yards per game.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (6) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

redlights's picture

"Combined with Kuhn, who seems to get either a first down or a touchdown every time he touches the ball in short-yardage situations" ...

Lucky guy scores on a high percentage of attmepts :)

CSS's picture

Aaron Rodgers is wrecking defenses off play-action passing this year, that is all....

Evan's picture

Aaron Rodgers is wrecking defenses. Period.

Nerdmann's picture

I still like Starks better. Can't wait to see Green.

Cole O's picture

We all have to give the interior linemen some props as well

Norman's picture

"Not since the days when Edgar Bennett and Dorsey Levens co-existed have the Packers had an effective running back duo like they have now in Starks and Grant."

Ahem, aren't you forgetting Najeh Davenport and Whisper Goodman?

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