Dan Powers/USA TODAY

Packers Have Potential Problem in Backfield

Just as Eddie Lacy got rolling and bowling over defenders, he was knocked out by an injured ankle. Backup James Starks, however, has been unable to provide a one-two punch.

Eddie Lacy said he’ll be fine after missing the final 20 minutes of the Green Bay Packers’ victory over the Giants due to an ankle injury.

“I’m all right,” Lacy said on Sunday night while, as usual, sitting on a table near his locker. “I can walk on it, which is good. We’ll see how it is going into next week.”

The Packers had better hope Lacy is right, because they suddenly appear to have a problem in the backfield. Lacy has been tremendous. He carried 11 times for 81 yards, including a rip-roaring 31-yarder in which the best the Giants could do was eventually ride him out of bounds. But even without that big run, he averaged 5.0 yards on his other 10 carries. Lacy ranks fourth in the NFL with 5.5 yards per carry, and he’s been sensational the past two games with a combined 28 carries for 184 yards — a sizzling 6.6 yards per carry.

Starks, however, is going nowhere fast. After rushing 12 times for 9 yards in the first three games, Starks carried 12 times for 33 yards against the Giants. His season average is 1.8 yards per carry; his career average was 4.3 entering the season.

He hasn’t factored in the passing game, either. After leading the NFL in yards after the catch per catch last season, Starks has caught six passes (10 targets) for 50 yards. Starks and quarterback Aaron Rodgers weren’t on the same page at all in the passing game. Rodgers and Starks misfired on a pair of screens, including one that might have scored a touchdown, and a checkdown. Rodgers took the blame.

“We feel great about James Starks,” Rodgers said. “I missed him a couple times on screens that could have been bigger plays, but he ran the ball pretty well. Maybe (he) should have kept that last one inside, but we have a lot of faith in James if Eddie’s down. That’s why you’ve got to have two backs in this league.”

Despite a career-high five fumbles last year and having turned 30 on Feb. 25, the Packers re-signed Starks to a two-year contract worth $6 million, which included a $1.5 million signing bonus. Last year, Starks tallied a career-high 993 yards from scrimmage and had career-high totals in rushes, rushing yards, receptions, receiving yards, yards per catch and touchdown catches.

The only other option on the roster is Don Jackson, an undrafted rookie from Nevada who is on the practice squad. The Packers have some tough roster decisions to make with defensive tackle Mike Pennel and cornerback Demetri Goodson coming off the suspended list this week. To put them on the 53-man roster, the Packers will need to make two other roster moves.

Lacy’s battled ankle problems in the past. He hopes this one won’t put him on the sideline.

“I’m shooting for none,” Lacy said of missing games. “I’m a pretty tough person. I should be all right.”

Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.

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