James Starks has supplanted slumping Eddie Lacy atop the Green Bay Packers’ running back depth chart.
“I would say James is our No. 1 back right now going into Detroit,” coach Mike McCarthy said before Wednesday’s practice. “He’s played very well. He’s earned that opportunity. I’ve never been, and we talked about this a number of times in the past, I’m not a big believer in just riding one running back the whole season. We’ll stay with the one-two punch.”
As of late, Starks has been the only back providing a punch. In Week 6 vs. San Diego, Starks carried the ball 10 times for 112 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown. Last week at Carolina, Starks carried 10 times for 39 yards, including three strong runs during Green Bay’s first-quarter touchdown drive, and finished with 122 yards from scrimmage.
Lacy, meanwhile, has rushed for only 78 yards on 33 attempts (2.4 average) the past four games after rumbling for 90 yards on 18 attempts (5.0 average) at San Francisco in Week 4.
For the season, Starks has carried 78 times for 334 yards (4.3 average) compared to 83 carries for 308 yards (3.7 average) for Lacy. Lacy had a big season as a receiver last year but has caught 10 passes for only 92 yards this season. Starks had almost that many yards last week, with his six grabs for a career-high 83 yards, and has caught 19 passes for 167 yards. Moreover, Lacy has fumbled in each of his last three games.
“A very, very good back,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said of Starks during his conference call with Packers beat reporters. “He does a great job obviously running it from scrimmage. He's elusive. He's got power. Obviously, he's a game-breaker. But then also what he does in the screen game as well, he catches the ball out of the backfield well, he takes short receptions in terms of the screens and turns them into huge gains. So he’s got a great feel for the guys out blocking for him. He’s a patient runner and he’s explosive.”
We will have more on Starks later.
Update: Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee), cornerbacks Casey Hayward (concussion) and Damarious Randall (illness) and outside linebacker Mike Neal (hip) were listed as did not participate on Wednesday's injury report. Bulaga and Neal played through their injuries last week. Three players who did not play vs. Carolina, receiver Ty Montgomery (ankle) and cornerbacks Quinten Rollins (neck) and Sam Shields (shoulder) returned to practice. Shields, the team's top corner, was limited participation.
Tight end Andrew Quarless, who is on injured reserve/designated for return, is eligible to practice this week but did not participate.
Packers injury report
Player (injury): Wednesday
RT Bryan Bulaga (knee): DNP.
S Morgan Burnett (ankle): Full.
CB Casey Hayward (concussion): DNP
DB Micah Hyde (quad): Full
RB Eddie Lacy (groin): Limited
G T.J. Lang (back): Limited
LB Clay Matthews (ankle/knee): Limited
WR Ty Montgomery (ankle): Limited
OLB Mike Neal (hip): DNP
OLB Nick Perry (shoulder/hand): Limited
CB Damarious Randall (illness): DNP
CB Quinten Rollins (neck): Full
CB Sam Shields (shoulder): Limited
G Josh Sitton (back): Limited
Lions injury report
Player (injury): Wednesday
S James Ihedigbo (shoulder): Full
WR Calvin Johnson (ankle): Limited
LB Travis Lewis (groin): Limited
CB Rashean Mathis (concussion): DNP
CB Darius Slay (head): Full
CB Josh Wilson (neck): Full
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