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Healthy Starks could help ease Lacy's burden

Oct. 28, 2013
 

It sounds easy enough on paper.

The Green Bay Packers want to lessen Eddie Lacy’s burden and Packers coach Mike McCarthy wants James Starks to get more carries. It seems like a perfect combination.

There still was a stark contrast between the running backs’ workloads in Sunday’s 44-31 win over Minnesota, though Starks’ effort was a positive sign in rushing seven times for 57 yards and a touchdown after missing three games due to a partially torn Medial collateral ligament he suffered against Cincinnati last month.

However, it didn’t translate into a lesser workload for Lacy, who finished with a season-high 29 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown. He’s on pace for the most single-season carries by a Packers’ running back (280) since Ryan Grant rushed 282 times, which also marked the last time a Packers’ running back has rushed for 1,000 yards.

Starks’ recent knee injury was the latest in a long list of setbacks during his four-year NFL career, but the 27-year-old running back looked no worse for wear against the Vikings, cutting with the same explosiveness he displayed in his first three games.

“I thought he looked very good,” Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. “He can hard, he saw the holes and hit it fast. He broke tackles. He ran the way you’d like him to run all the time.”

Through four games and 41 carries this season, Starks is averaging 6.0 yards per rush this season and is only 11 yards shy of eclipsing his 71-255-3.6 rushing line in six injury-riddled games in 2012.

When used in moderation, Starks could be the complementary piece to finally ease Lacy’s usage, an emphasis that’s been echoed numerous times by running backs coach Alex Van Pelt, who stated he doesn’t want to run Lacy 25 times a game all season.

However, that’s what the Packers had to do with Starks on the mend after fellow rookie running back Johnathan Franklin encountered a fumbling issue.

Starks ran on seven of his 11 carries against the Vikings with Lacy seeing 62 offensive snaps, but McCarthy hopes to level the playing field a bit moving forward.

“Eddie was in a groove so we stayed the way we did and obviously it worked out well,” McCarthy said. “When James got his opportunity, I thought he jumped in there and made an impact. He was running hard, downhill, not wasting any steps. He had good reads. That’s why the attempts and things like that, you look at it week to week. I would have liked to have James Starks get a few more carries.”

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