Through the season's early weeks, Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy's production — or, in many cases, lack of it — sparked plenty of concern.
The reigning NFL offensive rookie of the year had a slow start to his sophomore season. Lacy didn't score his first touchdown until the season's fourth game. His first 100-yard game came a week later. In his first 10 games, Lacy never had 20 carries.
There was no way his production could match last season. That was the expectation through the season's early months.
But Lacy recovered from his slow start, enough to build on his rookie-of-the-year season. His second straight 1,000-yard rushing season is impressive, but maybe not as impressive as his 1,440 total yards through 15 games.
That's 5 more total yards than he had in 16 games last season.
Lacy's 13 touchdowns — nine rushing, four receiving — are two more than last fall. His 39 catches, 51 targets and 401 receiving yards are also more than last season.
Entering the regular-season finale, Lacy reviewed his second year in this week's Q&A with Press-Gazette Media.
You've been on some kind of a roll this second half of the season. How do you feel when you're in the zone, as you've been?
Lacy: I honestly have no idea. I go into it clear-minded, and just trying to make the most of what I get on a play. At the end of the game, whatever the stats are — that's just what they are. I just try to do the best I can every play.
Not just stats, but making plays and producing in the offense, it seems like you're getting better as the season goes on. How much do you pride yourself on that?
Lacy: A lot of it is the fact that we're a real balanced offense. I don't have to run the ball 25-plus times per game, so I'm not wearing myself down. We have (James) Starks to come in as a change-of-pace back, and we have a pretty good rotation of people to keep us fresh. So I think that goes into being able to still run close to 100 percent at the end of the season like we did in the beginning.
You've gotten more touches and carries later in the season. The fact that your touches gradually built up to that, do you feel physically fresher because of that?
Lacy: I don't know. It would seem that way. I definitely don't disagree with it. I think the colder it gets, the more they tend to run the ball a little more. Defenses don't like to tackle when it's freezing cold, because it hurts. I think that plays a part in it.
You have 5 more yards through 15 games than you did all last season when you won rookie of the year. Obviously, the biggest reason is your presence in the passing game. Do you feel like you're as complete of a running back as you've ever been?
Lacy: I mean, I don't know if I'd use the word complete, but just being able to make plays — whether it's handing off or getting the ball checked down to me. I'm real confident in my catching abilities, and so are the coaches and Aaron (Rodgers). With everybody being comfortable, and me being able to catch passes and make plays, it definitely helps out the offense a lot.
How about the word versatile? Do you feel there's been more versatility with your game this season?
Lacy: I mean, than the past? Yeah, but that's only because in college all we did was run the ball downhill at defenses and try to see if they can stop us. So there was no need to throw the ball. Here, the fact that I'm able to catch, it pretty much adds another dimension.
After having a slow start this season, is there any vindication you feel that you've been able to recover and build on what you did last season?
Lacy: I'm just thankful to be able to be anywhere near where I was last year, just to be able to contribute to the team the way that I've been able to contribute. Not going back to last year and everything that was accomplished last year — because every year is different — just to be able to be in the same area is pretty cool.
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood.