Eddie Lacy isn’t one to reference his numbers. That doesn’t change when the conversation turns to his weight.
The Green Bay Packers big — OK, bigger — running back weighs more than he did two years ago, coach Mike McCarthy said earlier this week. He was the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2013, a Pro Bowl running back. This season, he has 260 rushing yards in six games.
Lacy said his weight isn’t to blame for a slow start, though he wouldn’t reveal how much he weighed when asked Thursday.
“When I get on (a scale),” Lacy said, “it’s like, ‘He cool.’ If I’m not, I’m pretty sure I’ll hear from the guy upstairs.”
The guy upstairs, in this case, would be Packers general manager Ted Thompson. Lacy said he could be fined for failing to hit the proper weight, if he hears from Thompson. He hasn’t yet.
“I’m pretty sure that’s not a conversation I’m trying to get into,” Lacy said.
Standing 5-foot-11, Lacy is listed at 234 pounds on the Packers’ roster. It’s similar to his weight at the NFL scouting combine in February 2013, when he was listed at 231. During the offseason program, he hovered around the 240-pound range.
Lacy, who wears The Hulk T-shirts under his shoulder pads, has never been a small guy. His brand of football is a bruising, downhill style. He considers contact with tacklers a “business decision” — for them to wager.
In those clashes, his weight can be beneficial.
“It depends on the person,” Lacy said. “Some people carry a lot of weight. Some people can’t. I’m not the smallest person. Brandon Jacobs wasn’t the smallest person. Jerome Bettis wasn’t the smallest person. Some people can just play like that — not that I’m Jerome Bettis’ weight or nothing like that.
“I’m just saying, not everybody’s meant to look like Adrian Peterson or somebody like that.”
None of this would likely matter if Lacy was having the type of season expected of him. The fantasy football experts labeled Lacy the preferred top pick during preseason drafts, and fantasy football has become an important industry associated with the NFL.
Lacy hasn’t matched that standard. Instead, he’s on pace for 693 rushing yards, which would drop him well below 1,000 for the first time in his career. He hasn’t scored a touchdown since the season’s opener at Chicago.
Lacy has had to battle through a sprained ankle, which he suffered in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks. Still, he wasn’t listed on the Packers’ injury report before the team’s past game against the San Diego Chargers, when Lacy had only four carries.
“It’s tough,” running back coach Sam Gash said Thursday. “He’s a bona fide ball player that always wants to be in there.”
On Thursday, Lacy said he expects more carries Sunday at the Denver Broncos. What he’ll do with them — if he gets them — remains to be seen. Lacy hasn’t hit the 100-yard mark this season. Sunday, against one of the best defenses in the NFL, would be a good time to start.
If his numbers continue to lag behind expectations, Lacy won’t blame his weight. Lacy said he recently noticed a flaw in his technique while watching film of himself from earlier in the season. He was running too high, pads straight up like a sprinter.
Lacy might’ve broken the first tackle, but the contact knocked him off balance.
“I would take a hit and I would break the tackle,” Lacy said, “but I would break it sideways. Which allows other people to come tackle me, versus in years past my pads would be low. So when I take the hit, I’m still moving forward. It’s just getting my pads down and getting back to basics.”
Coincidently, his high pad level could come with being a bigger tailback. Gash, a former Pro Bowl fullback, has seen it “a lot” over the years. Bigger running backs feel invincible, he said. They fear nothing.
So they run higher, not protecting themselves from contact.
“That’s something that you always have to talk to bigger backs about,” Gash said, “because from the time they started carrying the ball they’ve always been able to do what they want to do. You just focus on the fundamentals daily and hope that the guys pick it up.”
Offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said high pad level can be a major hindrance for running backs. Football is based on getting proper leverage, Bennett said. If a tailback runs too high, it prevents him from falling forward and picking up extra yards after contact.
Fundamentals, Bennett said, is the key for Lacy busting out of his slump. He isn’t concerned about his running back’s weight.
“It’s not that at all,” Bennett said. “It’s more, we look for ways to improve on a daily basis. How can we get better? Be fundamentally sound. When we talk about being fundamentally sound, Coach (McCarthy) has our identity, and a big part of that is being fundamentally sound in all these different areas. We have quite a few as far as the menu goes, and pad level is one of them. Not just for Eddie but for our entire team
“It’s not just Eddie and his running style. I love his running style. He’s very effective, he’s explosive. Shoot, he’s The Hulk. This guy breaks tackles. Bottom line, he breaks tackles. He’ll break more tackles when we continue to be fundamentally sound.”
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