The Green Bay Packers are giving halfback Eddie Lacy a heavy workload in training camp because they want him to be an every-down back this season.
But that doesn't mean coach Mike McCarthy will use him much in preseason games.
McCarthy didn't even suit up Lacy for the preseason opener last week at Tennessee, and by all appearances he'll limit Lacy's playing time in the three remaining preseason games to keep Lacy's hits to a minimum before the start of the regular season.
"His (practice) reps are up this year from last year, so you've got to pay attention to that," McCarthy said. "Obviously we all understand how productive he was last year, but you also have to look at the workload he had last year playing the season. It's not my goal for his workload to be very high in preseason games."
Last year as a rookie, Lacy had 18 carries in the preseason, and it's highly unlikely he'll get near that number this year now that the Packers know what he can do. There's a decent chance that besides sitting out the preseason opener he'll also be rested during the preseason finale, and it appears McCarthy might play him only a few series combined in the second and third preseason games.
The more extensive practice reps should help Lacy's chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the offensive line, but the Packers never tackle in practice. His limited work in the preseason games will minimize his exposure to injuries but also could mean he won't be quite as sharp for the regular-season opener as he would be with more carries.
"We practice all the time, but practice speed and game speed are completely different," Lacy said. "So whether it's two reps or five reps, just getting the timing down with the offensive linemen's blocks and me and the quarterback's path."
Last year Lacy had two injuries of note, a concussion in Week 2 against Washington that sidelined him the following game as well, and a sprained ankle he sustained late in the season and aggravated the next two weeks.
Lacy's 284 carries were fifth-most in the NFL last season – Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy led the league with 315 – and he's looking at another heavy carry load this year. But Lacy said that by late last season he learned that one of the keys to good health for a running back in the NFL is what he does off the field.
"That's where rehab (comes in)," he said, "hot tub, cold tub, and when you're not here at the facility making sure you're off your feet, not out running around whenever you have off time. So it's all about maintaining your body because you're going to get beat up a lot during the game. You want to heal your body as much as you can before next week."