The Green Bay Packers head into the 2013 regular season knowing that they need a rushing attack to help out Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense. They drafted both Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin in June’s NFL Draft, and are returning James Starks to their backfield as well.
DuJuan Harris was expected to be a big part of the Packers’ plans, but he was placed on injured reserve due to a knee injury. Let’s take a look at what the Packers have in their backfield this season.
Lacy was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, and is the favorite to be the Packers starting running back. He was a huge play-maker at Alabama last year, putting up 1,322 yards on 6.5 yards per carry. In addition to those stats, he put 17 touchdowns up on the board as well. There were two major questions about Lacy heading into the Draft.
First, his health had been a question mark, but that seems to be something of the past. Second, many teams don’t believe that his game transfers to the NFL game. The Packers obviously don’t share that belief, and Lacy has made it clear that he plans to use the critics as motivation to prove himself.
Starks is most well known for his contributions to the Green Bay Packers run to the Super Bowl in 2010. He was able to step in out of nowhere to be the rushing attack that Rodgers and company needed to put themselves over the top. Starks played good football last season before going down with what ended up being a season ending injury. He rushed 71 times for 255 yards (3.6 AVG), and punched in a touchdown as well.
He’s a very solid backup, who is expected to start the season as Green Bay’s primary backup to Lacy.
Franklin was the second running back selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2013 Draft. He was rated very high on most analysts running back list, and was expected to be able to contribute immediately for the Packers. After a rough preseason, that doesn’t seem to be all that likely. He’s had issues translating his game to the NFL, and failed to show anything special in any of the four preseason games that he played in.
There’s no doubt that he has talent, but it’s hard to think of him as anything more than a prospect for the future at this point. There may be times this year where he sees the field as the third-string back, but there’s no reason to expect too much out of him at this point in time.
Overall, the Packers backfield is improved from last season. Eddie Lacy will certainly be a much more consistent back than Green Bay had last season, and Starks will be a solid backup assuming he stays healthy. The running game will be a major part of the Packers success this season.
Follow Evan Massey on Twitter, (@massey_evan).