Eddie Lacy carried the ball four times on Sunday against San Diego.
There’s nothing to read into that, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday, even though that was an unprecedented number in the third-year back’s career.
“At this point, I’m not really interested in running one of my running backs 20 to 25 times in a game, I don’t think that’s the best thing for us. Right now, it’s not the best thing for them,” McCarthy said on Monday, a day after Lacy was a nonfactor in the Packers’ 27-20 victory over San Diego.
The numbers are shocking, though. In Lacy’s 37-game career, he had fewer than 10 carries in game just two times before Sunday. In the previous two cases, it was because of injury – one carry for 10 yards before a concussion against Washington in Week 2 of his rookie season and three carries for 9 yards before he hurt his ankle against Seattle in Week 2 of this season.
Injuries, McCarthy and others said on Sunday and again on Monday, were at play this time, too. However, it’s worth noting that Lacy was not listed on last week’s injury report.
“Oh, no,” Lacy said after the game on whether he was limited by injuries. “(James) Starks got on a roll early, and when the guy gets hot like that, you want him to keep going and he was able to keep performing. Even though he was dinged up, he played through it, and I’m happy for him.”
The final tally on Sunday: Starks had 10 carries for 112 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown, while Lacy had four carries for 3 yards and a fumble.
Starks’ involvement in the offense rivals his usage at any point in his previous three seasons. He’s had 10-plus carries in three out of six games this season. Last year, he had two games of 10-plus carries. In 2013, when he led the NFL in yards per carry, Starks had four games of 10-plus carries. In 2012, when he played in only six games, he had 10-plus carries three times.
“We always cheer for each other,” Starks said on Sunday. “That’s my little brother. We only wish the best for each other and we grind together. It’s a long season. We’re going to try to make the most out of it.”
While Lacy’s minimal usage is rare, McCarthy has at least gone down this road a little bit in the past. Last season, Lacy had 129 carries in the first 10 games – 12.9 per game. In the final six games, Lacy had 117 carries – 19.5 per game.
“The running back position is an extremely punishing position that can take a lot of hits,” McCarthy said. “I think you have be conscientious of that, and Eddie has a bruising running style. You look at the numbers early last year but it worked out at the end of the year pretty good. Yeah, I’m not concerned there. Just really I like the one-two punch and, frankly, if one of them gets hot in a game, then, hey, he may carry it 20 times. That’s how we talk as a staff.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.