Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy wasn't aware his head coach told the media he needed to play better.
Lacy was informed of Mike McCarthy's blunt challenge – a simple "Eddie needs to play better" – while standing at his locker. The second-year tailback said he took no offense.
"As a player, I think when a coach calls you out, that means he sees something in you that you can do or you need to work on and get better," Lacy said, rather matter-of-factly.
Lacy spoke with reporters at his locker for more than 15 minutes Wednesday afternoon. Over and over, he was asked one variation or another of the same question.
Why is last season's offensive rookie of the year off to a slow start this month? Is it a sophomore slump? Are defenses keying on him more?
"I haven't done as good as I think I'm capable of being," Lacy admitted.
When he watched the film of his underwhelming 11-carry, 36-yard performance in the Packers loss Sunday at the Detroit Lions, Lacy said he found one reason.
"I need to work on keeping my pads low," Lacy said. "There were a few times last week where I was running kind of high, and I just figured that out. This week, definitely get my pads down when I'm running."
One thing Lacy isn't worried about is ball security.
It's a focus for him, he said. Just no more than any other week, even after fumbling in the first quarter against the Lions, putting the Packers in an early touchdown hole after it was returned 40 yards for a touchdown.
It was Lacy's first fumble since his rookie debut in last season's opener against the San Francisco 49ers, a stretch of more than 300 carries.
"It's always a point of emphasis," Lacy said. "As a ballcarrier, it's your job to make sure it's secure. It comes out from time to time, but it just can't be a big issue."
Lacy said he's not satisfied with the way he's played. He expects more. But there was no panic in his voice Wednesday.
It's easy to forget now, but Lacy's slow start this month has mirrored last season. As a rookie, it took him three games to exceed 100 yards on the year. In Game 4, he went for 120 yards against the Baltimore Ravens.
Lacy said he still has high expectations for the Packers running game.
"We just have to dominate it," Lacy said. "Every run is not going to be a great run, but if it's going to be a 1-yard run, then make sure whoever you hit it's a big hit to get everybody juiced up and ready to keep running the ball. That's pretty much my mindset."
-firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood