The Green Bay Packers aren't losing any sleep over Eddie Lacy's slow start.
Yes, they're fully aware the second-year running back has only 36 carries for 113 yards this season and a long of 17. On a day where the Packers should have feasted on Detroit's Cover-2 defense, Lacy managed 36 yards on 11 carries in Sunday's 19-7 loss to the Lions.
Afterward, Lacy told reporters in the locker room he doesn't know whether to be patient or speed up. When asked about it Thursday, running backs coach Sam Gash believes that was just frustration talking.
Lacy made a few poor decisions, but he remains one of the league-leaders in broken tackles. His 11 forced missed tackles are the eighth-most in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
"Any positions group is going to feel like it's on me," Gash said. "What can I do to get better? it's just an emotional answer. Eddie has to just keep doing what he's doing and coming to work and preparing the way he's going to and it'll click. He'll get it."
Coming off a 1,100-yard season as a rookie, Lacy was called on the carpet by coach Mike McCarthy earlier this week about needing to run better. Meanwhile, veteran James Starks and his 5.0-yards per carry are pushing for playing time.
Lacy (24) and Starks (19) nearly split snaps evenly against the Lions after the early fumble, but it's clear Lacy remains the Packers' go-to-guy in the backfield.
"Eddie is the starter and James comes in and plays wells when he has to," Gash said.
The Packers just need to get him going. As Gash points out, a bruising running back like Lacy usually needs 10 or more carries to get into a rhythm. He's barely averaged that for an entire game through his first three games.
It's a delicate balance to strike. The early issues in the running game has the offense wondering if the ball needs to be in the hands of quarterback Aaron Rodgers more than it has been.
Lacy was the focal point of the offense during Rodgers' absence last season. He carried the ball 20 or more times in 12 of his 16 games (including playoffs) during his rookie of the year campaign.
"Everybody talks about, 'What's the problem? What's the problem?' We all need to play better as a whole," Gash said. "And that's everybody across the board. A lot of Eddie, really his good runs have come on his 10th, 11th, 12th carry; late in the games. That's kind of what it is early may not be pretty, but as the game wears on, he's doing exactly what I thought he would be able to do."
As for his first-quarter fumble – Lacy's first in more than 300 carries – Gash hasn't even brought it up.
Defensive lineman Nick Fairley was credited with the forced fumble, but the ball actually popped out when Lacy ran into the back of rookie center Corey Linsley.
"I'm not worried about Eddie being a fumbler. Not by any stretch of the imagination," Gash said. "He knows he's a good ball carrier. He's very secure with the ball. It hurt him more than it hurt anybody else. That's the type of player he is where it really bothers him."
Some might categorize Lacy's 11 carries for 36 yards Sunday as a subpar showing, but Gash believes a leader emerged.
Yes, neither Lacy nor the Packers' run offense has lived up to expectations three weeks into the season. Lacy is averaging 3.1-yards per carry and the Packers rank 27th in total rushing (78.7 yards per game).
Still, Gash likes how Lacy has responded in the wake of letdown. When things got tough, Lacy put the room's failures on his back. Now, the second-year back just needs to channel it this Sunday against the Chicago Bears, who are allowing a 144.7 yards per game on the ground.
"I call it a growth plate. He hit one of his growth plates right there," Gash said. "The running game goes as the runners go. That's what you have to believe."
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