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James Starks to Get Start with Eddie Lacy Recovering from Concussion

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James Starks to Get Start with Eddie Lacy Recovering from Concussion

Green Bay Packers running back James Starks. Photo by Corey Behnke of

The Green Bay Packers have yet to officially rule rookie running back Eddie Lacy out for this Sunday's upcoming game against the Cincinnati Bengals as he recovers from a concussion, but head coach Mike McCarthy did say that James Starks will get the start regardless of Lacy's status.

"James Starks is definitely someone I look at as a starter and the ability to run as many times in a football game as needed," said McCathy. "James will get the start and the opportunity this week."

Lacy was hit in a helmet-to-helmet collision with Washington safety Brandon Merriweather this past Sunday, for which he was fined $42,000, according to Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports.

Lacy did not practice on Wednesday as the Packers began their first day of on-field preparations for the Bengals, but he was reportedly present at practice and is making progress.

"He's in the meetings, and that's always a positive sign," said McCarthy. "He has a couple tests in front of him he needs to pass before he can practice."

All NFL players suffering a concussion must undergo a multi-tiered protocol before being allowed to return to action.

With the Packers one game away from a Week 4 bye, it stands to reason that they might err on the side of caution with Lacy and give him an extra week on the sidelines, but that is merely guesswork at this point.

The Packers will give their official game-time status projections on Friday after practice, but there's no guarantee that the Packers will even know by then whether Lacy will be able to play or not with kickoff still approximately 48 hours away.

Combined with a hamstring injury to fullback John Kuhn, however, the Packers are thin in the offensive backfield, at least for the time being. Kuhn did not practice on Wednesday either.

Starks and rookie Johnathan Franklin were the only true running backs available at practice on Wednesday, and Franklin has yet to have his first NFL carry.

Trough the team's first two games, Franklin has played exclusively on special teams for a total of nine plays. But that could be changing in the near future if you're to believe McCarthy.

"Johnathan's doing a lot of good things," said McCarthy. "At practice today, he had a big-time catch down in the red (zone). He'll probably get some opportunities this week. Frankly, in hindsight, I should have got him in the game on Sunday, but James was hot, and I just wanted to ride him and give him as many opportunities as possible."

When asked whether the team was considering picking up a running back to get the team through the current rough patch, McCarthy said on Monday that the team was putting together a game plan based upon the players that are on the roster.

If general manager Ted Thompson and the Packers were considering adding a running back, they probably would have done so by now. And perhaps it's a case where they're just trying to get through the bye week, which would allow extra time Lacy and Kuhn to get healthy.

Randall Cobb is a player who's lined up at running back on occasion for the Packers in the past and had success, although he's certainly not a player the Packers want taking any more than a handful of snaps.

If Kuhn weren't available for duty, the Packers would have to likely get by with the tight ends splitting time as an H-back, which they've all done from time to time as well.

The Packers have had a mixed bag of success in running the football through the first two weeks of the season, gaining only 63 yards (3.3 ypc) against San Francisco in Week 1, while improving to 139 yards (5.8 ypc) in Week 2 versus Washington.

On Sunday, the Packers face a team that ranks seventh in the NFL in both total defense (300.5 yards per game) and rushing defense (62.5 yards per game), led by All-Pro defensive lineman Geno Atkins and a good surrounding cast.

Starks and whoever he's joined by figures to have their work cut out for them.

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (41) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Ct Sharpe Cheddar's picture

Off subject: Trent Richardson to the Colts WOW!

Evan's picture

Yeah...that's nuts.

Ct Sharpe Cheddar's picture

Well that's one really good back the Pack doesn't have to if only the Vikes would trade AP we'd be in business.So I guess it is kind of Packer news.

Mike's picture

What's really nuts is the fact it cost Indy 1 1st rd pick...especially after Cleveland traded up to pick Richardson!

Christian's picture

Browns are in need of yet another QB, and there seem to be a few NFL ready QBs coming out of college. That's probably why they traded Richardson.

Stroh's picture

Its been postulated that they are dumping to get Bridgwater in the draft. They still need a franchise QB and until they get one they aren't going anywhere even w/ Richardson. Now they have the ability if they are in the top5 picks to move up to #1. They can use the 2 1st round picks this year and a 1st next. Just like Wash did to get RG3.

Ct Sharpe Cheddar's picture

Who are they going to be worse than the Jets? the Jaquars? they won't have to move up to far to get the 1# pick.The pick they want to get a qb should fall to them.The Jags will get a qb or Clowney we will see.

Stroh's picture

I would lump the jets, jags, browns and raiders among the group. Wash was #6 IIRC and gave 3 1st, and a 2nd to move to #2.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I was shocked as well... Colts got a lot better. Browns. Well I think they will try to get better in the draft.

2 first, 3rd and 4th round picks in the draft. They are stockpiling...
although it hasn't helped much in the past.

Longshanks's picture

I personally am glad McCarthy didn't try to get in Franklin. For the first time in ages it's nice to see just one guy handle the load and see what he can do with 20 plus carries. Starks proved without a shadow of a doubt that he's a capable starter in this league.

As for Franklin, his time will come but at least we know that if Lacy goes down that Starks can be every bit as good. Last year due to injuries we really didn't have anyone we could count on until DuJuan Harris showed up.

Hopefully Starks can carry the load again this week and Franklin maybe get a couple carries. After that bye, Lacy returns and it's a great one/two punch the rest of the way with Starks and Lacy.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I sort of follow you on this. But I think it would have been better to get him in for some action. Even 5 plays.

I agree that allowing Starks to play the whole game was beneficial, and I agree he was hot so keep feeding him.

I just don't see how it wouldn't have benefited Franklin from not playing.

Stroh's picture

Question is... How would it have benefitted the Packers if they played him? This is about whats best for the team NOT Franklin! He has to earn the playing time in practice each week, it shouldn't be something he is given don't you think? I personally haven't heard of him doing anything, even in practice, to earn playing time.

Stroh's picture

And for Franklin he has to earn it w/ his blocking, not his running or receiving.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Starks isn't a good pass blocker. Why are we all judging Franklin on his pass blocking?

There are more ways to utilize a RB's talent then to just have him pass block.
I understand he isn't where he needs to be in it. But why do other teams find ways to use RB's in the passing game other then pass blocking?
Do the Saints use Sproles to pass block? No not much they have plays designed for him in the passing game out of the backfield, same with Reggie Bush.... I'm not saying Franklin is those guys, I'm just saying that teams find ways to use a players strength's and try to hide their weaknesses.

Stroh's picture

Apparently he's light years ahead of Franklin. Franklin didn't sniff the field on offense. Why do you think that was?

Coaches preach blocking to rookie RB as the fastest way to get on the field. When they are able to block they'll play. Simple as that...

If Franklin isn't those guys why mention them? Maybe they have earned the trust of their coaches whatever that takes, to get specialized packages. In GB getting the trust of coaches entails being able to pass block. We don't know about other teams, coaches or systems.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I agree with you that he isn't where he needs to be as far as pass blocking goes. He wasn't good and needs to improve.

Also this is where I disagree with the coaches. They preach pass blocking and that RB's have to otherwise they can't play. So then why are they putting Cobb in the backfield? He isn't pass blocking. He is either Running or running routes out of the backfield. They could have done the same thing with Franklin. I am just saying in the game when they were up by 30 they could have done that one 5 plays or whatever...

My whole point is, they can find ways to use him, and use him so he isn't pass blocking. I only brought up Sproles and Bush because of how they use them. They use them as receivers not blockers...

RC Packer Fan's picture

I agree with you Stroh that Franklin has to earn it.

Basically my whole point was that when they were up by 30, it would have been a good time to put him in the game to get some experience...
That would benefit the Packers and Franklin.
I'm not saying he should be starting or anything...

chicago hooligan's picture

Starks has a good game about once every year and a half. Looking forward to his 15 carries for 45 yards this week.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

"I personally am glad McCarthy didn’t try to get in Franklin."

Totally, that would just be gross.

Stroh's picture

What has Franklin done to earn playing time?

RC Packer Fan's picture

we won't know until he plays. We aren't in practice to know what he has done.

I just said that when they only kept 3 RB's and 1 FB, and now 2 of those guys are injured. They are 1 play away from having to rely on Franklin for a game.
Wouldn't it have been better if he would have received some playing time, when they were up by 30 points against Washington?

Stroh's picture

Its best to play the player who gives you the best chance to win. Period. Especially when your 0-1. Don't want to take any chance he misses a block, Rodgers gets injured and fumbles and Wash returns it for a TD all at the same time. That's called changing the course of a game, not to mention a season.

When Franklin EARN playing time he'll get it.

TommyG's picture

This weekend will allow Franklin to show his skills (if they exist) at this time. He will no doubt be sharing carries with Starks and will get his chance to impress. I look forward to seeing him carry a few times.

Lucky953's picture

I think they'd like Lacy available, but not to need him. C'mon OLine!! Keep this train rolling.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I wish they would have gotten Franklin involved last week, even if it was for a series or a few plays. What happens this week if Starks gets hurt. It would be nice to not have to throw Franklin in the fire...

I expect to see Franklin used this week. Although I think he will be used more in the passing game then running game. In McCarthy's comments he noted that he had a big time catch...
Kind of reading between the lines I think he will try to use him on check downs, swing passes, dump off's and screens. I don't think he will be asked to pass protect much.

Longshanks's picture

The reason I am happy they rode Starks all the way was because his end result was impressive. The numbers are what people pay attention too.

When an opposing defense sees 130 plus yards rushing by a running back vs. 50 or 60 yards if he had shared carries with Franklin, it just puts them at a little more unease knowing he's not some slouch. They have to pay attention to him. That is half the battle and was a problem last year for us with teams not respecting any of our backs. If Starks can continue to play well it helps our passing game which is where they really excel at.

Cinci will have to pay attention to Starks a little more this week I guarantee you and that was because McCarthy didn't put in Franklin. Smart move.

Whether Franklin got 5 carries last week is not a big deal but getting a defense to actually think you have a big bruising running back capable of a 100 plus yards that is not named Eddie Lacy is a big deal. Nice call MM.

MarkinMadison's picture

I think for the fans, you are right. I don't think opposing pros care whether it is one back getting 130 yards or two backs getting 65 each. They are smarter than that.

Stroh's picture

Amazingly, I agree w/ Longshanks. The opposition will pay more attention to one back that gains a lot of yardage, not 2 RB that put up modest numbers, even if it equals out.

Longshanks's picture

Exactly Stroh!! Also remember, Starks was the first damn back since 2010 to rush for 100 yards. That embarrassment finally needed to end and had MM given Franklin some playing time in the end, maybe Starks doesn't get that 32 yard td run that put him over the 100 mark.

Defenses do pay attention to a 100 yard rusher vs. someone who get 35 to 50 a game. They just do as a 100 yard rusher in the NFL says your pretty darn good. Not only do other teams pay attention but it also helps out the offensive line of the Packers who were also probably embarrased at that lack of 100 yard rusher stat and were sick of hearing how bad they were at run blocking. When Starks ran for that td, nobody was happier than that offensive line. They were all down there celebrating as if they scored that td themselves.

It needed to end this year and thank God it did and that was because MM didn't feel the need to get some rookie rb in the game simply because he could use the work. He gets plenty of work in practice. He'll do just fine when he gets put in hopefully for some other team because that would mean we really don't need him. Cow could be right on Franklin meaning it was a wasted pick.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Yeah, I agree with what your saying... I'm just saying that I think they could have found ways to get Franklin in the game without taking away from Starks.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

I think Quarless is going to need to have a big game as far as blocking goes, especially with Kuhn likely out. Rest Lacy til week 5, give the bulk of snaps to Starks with a small # for Franklin as a change of pace. Bingo. Bango.

MarkinMadison's picture

Wait, now you want McCarthy to get in Franklin?

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

No, no, no. I want coach to get Franklin in... HUGE DIFF!

hayward4president's picture

I'm excited to see Franklin get his first NFL td on Sunday cause I'm gonna be there! 15 yard catch n run book it!

bogfan's picture

I am one of those cream puffs who actually agrees with the new concussion rules and testing.

This is not the Roman Coliseum and the NFL needs to protect the players from themselves.

Next Man UP!

Lucky953's picture

My image of Franklin is of him completely whiffing on a blitzing LB-twice! In addition, he really seemed to have trouble picking out holes to run through, even when they were there. Hopefully he's been learning the past three weeks. As some of you said, perhaps he'll only play snaps designed to get him in space.

hayward4president's picture

His blitz pickup was awful ....can't be doing that against one of the best d line groups in the NFL. He needs to either run it...or be a pass catcher.....period.

RC Packer Fan's picture

That has been my point. If Franklin can't pass block, then don't ask him to pass block.
Find other ways to use him. Right now I think he is a better receiver then runner. So find ways to get him the ball in the passing game. Screens, swing passes, running routes.

a couple of examples...
AJ Hawk isn't good in coverage so what do they do? They take him out when they are in nickel and dime packages.

Ryan Pickett is a great run stopper, but not a good pass rusher. So they take him out in passing situations...

Fi crane's picture

Just for the record. James Starks is all of 27 years old. And regarding his pass blocking from what I can see. He's tough

lennysmalls's picture

Didn't think the Pack would win today. No 4th quarter comeback - surprise! And the injuries. Somebody do an analysis -- has any team been injured as much as the Pack since McCarthy? Fire their strength and conditioning coaches.

mudduckcheesehead's picture

Suck it, cow.

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