It was no coincidence the Green Bay Packers reverted back to James Starks as their starting running back in Thursday against Detroit.
While no one was willing to go into details after the 27-23 win over the Lions, Packers coach Mike McCarthy made it clear in his post-game news conference that Eddie Lacy’s drastic reduction in playing time was done for a reason.
“Eddie didn’t have a great week, so we went with James,” McCarthy said.
Lacy didn’t enter the game until the third series and finished with only five carries for four yards. It was expected that the third-year running back would be a larger factor in the game plan after rushing for more than 100 yards in each of the past two weeks.
The two performances had turned around what has otherwise been a disappointing year for Lacy, who rushed for more than 1,100 yards in each of his first two seasons. This year, he’s battled groin and ankle injuries in addition to questions about his conditioning.
When asked if Lacy’s lack of opportunities had anything to do with practice, McCarthy replied: “It had nothing to do with practice.” Lacy also played it coy when asked about the situation in the locker room, saying: “I don’t feel as though that’s something I should get into yet.”
With Lacy and Starks combining for only 14 carries for 19 yards, the Packers received their biggest spark from undrafted rookie running back John Crockett. The former North Dakota State standout was notified he was going to be promoted from the practice squad at the team hotel three hours before the game.
The Packers turned to Crockett in the backfield to start the second half. He rushed for 16 yards on his first three carries, matching what the offense totaled in the entire first half. He finished with five rushes for 22 yards in his first NFL appearance.
The Packers released rookie running back Alonzo Harris to make room for him on the 53-man roster.
“It’s surreal,” Crockett said. “It still truly hasn’t hit me yet. At the end of the day, you’ve been preparing yourself for this, this moment. Having that mindset of stay hungry, stay ready. This game is crazy. Anything can happen. Just have to be ready for the opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Lacy tried to take the demotion in stride.
“It’s always tough, but you have to be supportive,” said Lacy, who had only one total yard on six touches after a catch for minus-3 yards. “It’s not just about you. You have to go out and assume your role whatever that role is.”
Will he have a chance to get his carries back?
“That’s something I don’t know about,” Lacy said. “We’ll see as the season goes on.”
firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.