Committees Rule Running Attacks

The 300-carry running back is becoming a dinosaur, and the Packers are way ahead of that curve. Last year's team leader, Ryan Grant, had 134 carries — tied for 34th in the league.

More and more, the NFL has turned to a by-committee approach to the running game.

The Green Bay Packers are part of that trend.

According to research by The Sports Xchange's national writer, Len Pasquarelli, there were just two players last season with 300 carries, the fewest since 1993.

Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew was the only starting back to average 20 carries per outing, again the fewest since 1993.

On the flip side, 19 teams had at least two backs register 100 or more attempts each, the most ever. That includes Green Bay, with Ryan Grant's team-high 134 carries and James Starks' 133 attempts.

"I don't know that it's a 'by committee' thing as much as it is a realization of the demands of the position," BenJarvus Green-Ellis of Cincinnati, expected to spit time with Bernard Scott in replacing workhorse Cedric Benson, told Pasquarelli. "It's likely you're just not going to see as many 300-carry backs anymore."

Between 2000 and 2010, the league averaged 8.5 backs per year with 300 or more attempts.

Going back a little further, Edgar Bennett was the first Packers back to crack the 300-carry barrier, toting the ball 316 times in 1995. Dorsey Levens (329 attempts in 1997), Ahman Green (304 in 2001 and 355 in 2003) and Grant (312 in 2008) are Green Bay's other 300-carry runners.

Last season marked the second consecutive year the Packers didn't have a runner with even 200 carries, with Brandon Jackson leading the way with 190 in place of an injured Grant in 2010. Only New Orleans, with Mark Ingram's 122 attempts, had a smaller team-leading figure than Grant's 134 attempts.

It's practically a guarantee that the Packers won't have a 300-carry running back this season. Heck, all of the Packers' running backs last year combined for 318 rushes.

Reaching 300 carries requires a back to average 18.75 attempts per game. Grant's 17 carries in Week 3 against Chicago were a team season high. Starks' season-high total was 13 carries, accomplished five times. Grant's next-highest game was also a 13-carry performance.

Grant is a free agent, Starks hasn't been healthy for a full season since 2008 and Alex Green is a total unknown who's coming off a torn ACL. Considering the instability in the backfield and the talents of MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers figure to be a pass-first attack with a situational backfield.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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