Starks suffers concussion in car crash

Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Packers running back James Starks hopes to separate himself from the competition.

GREEN BAY - Running back James Starks is in the concussion protocol after being in a car crash Monday, according to Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy.

Aside from saying Starks was "OK" otherwise, McCarthy did not provide any details.

A Green Bay police department spokesman confirmed the accident occurred in Green Bay but said the police report was not ready to be released.

“I’ve talked to him,” running backs coach Ben Sirmans said. “I talked to him yesterday. I talked to him after the accident. For him, prior to that, he’s in a good place. His biggest thing is he wants to win. I know he’s really disappointed this has happened to him because he thought he was good to go and was looking forward to getting out there against Chicago.”

Starks played seven snaps against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, and when he showed up on Wednesday’s injury report with a concussion, it was assumed he suffered it during the game.

Under the NFL's concussion protocol, Starks cannot play in a game until he goes through several recovery stages and, lastly, is cleared by an independent neurologist.

Sirmans reaffirmed what McCarthy said earlier in the day and told reporters “there are no issues” other than the concussion.

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Assuming Starks doesn't play Sunday against the Chicago Bears, the Packers will rely on running backs Ty Montgomery and Christine Michael to split most of the carries. But Michael was also absent from practice due to an illness that has been going around the locker room.

It would seem likely that Michael should be ready to play by Sunday, but if not, fullback Aaron Ripkowski would have to fill in. Either way, Montgomery, a converted wide receiver, would be the lead back. The most he has carried the ball in any game this year is nine times.

Asked if the 6-foot, 216-pound Montgomery could carry 20 times if the Packers needed him to, McCarthy said he would think so.

"That’s a question you really grow into," McCarthy said. "He’s definitely a durable player. You look at just the way he’s built. The fact of the matter is he returns kickoffs, too. I think that tells you what we think about his ability to run up in there.

"We’ll see how it goes this week, but yes, I have confidence he can get to that number if he had to."

Michael, meanwhile, will be playing in his fourth game since being acquired off waivers from Seattle. He carried a season-high 10 times for 36 yards against his former teammates.

Montgomery leads the team's running back in average yards per rush at 5.2.

“One of the things that you do learn is you have to teach all different types of people with all different types of ability to learn,” Sirmans said. “Having different guys pop in and out of the room based on my experiences, I don’t want to say gratifying but it is something I do enjoy getting guys ready and enjoy that challenge. Obviously if they perform at a high level, it makes me feel even better from a teaching standpoint.

“It’s been different. I’ve never had to experience a situation like this where I’ve had so many different guys in and out.”

Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contributed to this report.

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