Starks' knee injury clouds tailback picture

Michael Cohen
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Packers running back James Starks stiff arms New York Giants outside linebacker J.T. Thomas in Green Bay's 23-16 win Oct. 9 at Lambeau Field.

GREEN BAY - Any sense of nervousness about the Green Bay Packers’ injury outlook centered on starting running back Eddie Lacy, who spent a good chunk of Sunday’s game either on a training table or testing iterations of tape jobs for his left ankle.

Lacy hurt the ankle on his second carry of the second half against the New York Giants and did not return. He had run effectively in the first half — nine carries for 77 yards — and his absence left the offense with an irreplaceable hole. Backup James Starks carried 12 times for 33 yards.

On Wednesday, the running back situation turned downright dreary when Starks, who finished Sunday’s game without issue, missed practice with a knee injury.

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Starks was not present at Wednesday’s practice inside the Don Hutson Center, which is sometimes an indication of more serious issues. Cornerback Sam Shields (concussion) and tight end Jared Cook (high ankle sprain), for example, have not been seen at practice since their injuries occurred. The same was true for tight end Andrew Quarless (knee) a season ago.

Lacy, meanwhile, did attend Wednesday’s practice, which was a relative surprise. He was listed as a limited participant and did not take any team reps during the portion open to the media. He was, for the most part, a bystander.

Still, there appears to be a good chance Lacy will be healthy enough to give it a try Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers expressed a bit of optimism when asked about Lacy’s status for this weekend.

“I’m thinking Eddie is going to be OK this week,” Rodgers said. “Hopefully.”

The situation is a fragile one. As the roster stands, the Packers would enter the game with only one healthy tailback if either Lacy or Starks is unable to play, and at that point general manager Ted Thompson would need to make a decision: He could promote running back Don Jackson off the practice squad — Jackson took reps at Wednesday’s practice out of necessity — or he can roll the dice with alternatives like fullback Aaron Ripkowski or wide receivers Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb.

But Cobb was a limited participant Wednesday after the vicious hit he absorbed from Giants safety Landon Collins. Cobb (neck) did cardio and footwork drills off to the side of practice and did not take any team reps.

The decision to hold Cobb out may have been more precautionary than anything else, and Rodgers is confident his slot receiver will take the field Sunday. When asked if he was worried about Cobb potentially missing the game, Rodgers’ answer was succinct: “I don’t see that happening,” he said.

Shields, Cook and safety Chris Banjo (hamstring) all missed Wednesday’s practice as well.

Cornerback Damarious Randall, who did not play against the Giants due to a groin injury, was on the field but did not take any team reps. He was listed as a limited participant.

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