Less could mean more for Packers' Lacy

Pete Dougherty
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Eddie Lacy went back to P90X trainer Tony Horton a second time this offseason, and it shows.

Running back Eddie Lacy (27) smiles during Green Bay Packers Training Camp at Ray Nitschke Field July 26, 2016.

Lacy was a little slimmer for the first day of training camp Tuesday than he was for OTAs and minicamp that wrapped up six weeks ago. And he was slimmer for those offseason practices after working with Horton the first time around than he was last year.

So the Green Bay Packers’ primary running back looks better now than he did in 2015. The Packers have to find that encouraging. If Lacy holds his weight where it is, he should be a better runner than he was in 2015, and how much better matters plenty, because when Lacy is fit, he’s a difference maker.

But you still can’t say Lacy has transformed his body, or that he looks like he did in college at Alabama and at the NFL scouting combine before the 2013 draft. Coach Mike McCarthy was lukewarm about Lacy’s progress when the team reported for offseason workouts but was harder to read Tuesday. He was dismissive of the topic – “I mean, Eddie’s ready,” McCarthy said – and apparently is done talking about it publicly.

“In Eddie’s particular case, I’ve talked enough about his weight,” McCarthy said.

Lacy wouldn’t divulge his weight after practice Tuesday – he hasn’t since it became an issue last season – or how long he was in California working out with Horton.

“Do I look like I lost a few pounds over the summer?” he said. “You can go with that.”

My best guess is that he’s around the 240-pound mark. Last season he was at least 15 pounds heavier, maybe more.

After the Packers’ practice Tuesday, I went back and looked at some game highlights of Lacy at Alabama from 2012 and his first two seasons with the Packers, when he was one of the NFL’s better backs and a key piece of their offense.

His physique still is noticeably different now than in his final season at Alabama – he’s rounder through the torso and thicker in the haunches than he was in 2012.

The difference from his first two NFL seasons to Tuesday isn’t as clear. He’s probably a tad heavier now, but it’s tough to say for sure because he’s wearing shoulder pads in the highlights but not in practice Tuesday.

Now, Lacy’s a big man naturally, and a power back. So you have to take that into account with his physique. But visibly overweight backs age poorly in the NFL – Jerome Bettis might be the lone exception – and Lacy showed last season that he was a different (i.e., worse) player weighing in the 250s than he was his first two seasons in the NFL.

I still suspect Lacy’s optimal playing weight is in the low 230s. His listed weight for his final season at Alabama was 220 pounds but he reportedly played at 230, and at the NFL scouting combine in 2013 he weighed 231 pounds. That’s still plenty big, but that lighter weight would take some stress off his back and joints, and likely help his speed and quickness at least a little from where he is now.

Related:Lacy's weight only part way there.

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Lacy might end up losing some weight during training camp, though I can’t say I noticed any difference in him from the start to finish of camp last year. Or maybe this is about as light as he’s going to get and is just who he’s going to be.

“It needed to be said,” Lacy said of McCarthy’s public insistence that he drop weight in the offseason. “It was said, and you can either take it the right way or the wrong way. I think I did a pretty good job of taking it positively and taking care of what I had to.”

If you want to see a Packers player who changed his body significantly this offseason, take a look at tight end Richard Rodgers. He let his conditioning slip last year and played the season in the range of 272 pounds to 275 pounds. He looked like a different player Tuesday, slimmer from head to toe. He said he came in at the team-mandated 258 pounds.

Rodgers’ isn’t the explosive athlete Lacy is, so it’s hard to say how much difference it will make for him as a receiver and after the catch. But he clearly committed fully to making over his physique.

Lacy hasn't done that yet. If he ever does, look out.

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