In a stunning announcement just six hours before tonight’s kickoff, the Green Bay Packers have placed Eddie Lacy on injured reserve.
According to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, Lacy’s injured ankle requires surgery. According to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky, the Packers plan to use their one designated-for-return option on Lacy, assuming the surgery goes as planned. If that’s the case, he could return for the Dec. 18 game at Chicago.
Lacy, in the final year of his four-year rookie deal, was off to a tremendous start. He ranks fifth in the league with 5.07 yards per carry and had piled up 360 yards in five games. That put him on pace for 1,152 yards. That would have been right in line with his production from the first years, when he had 1,178 yards as a rookie and 1,139 yards in his second year.
With Lacy on injured reserve and James Starks out for at least a couple of games following knee surgery, the Packers will move forward with undrafted rookie Don Jackson, who was promoted from the practice squad as part of the Lacy transaction, Knile Davis, who was acquired in a trade from Kansas City on Tuesday, and receiver-returner-running back Ty Montgomery.
With that, the Packers' running game tonight and going forward will be in the hands of one player who wasn't on the active roster until 6 hours before kickoff, a running back who has been in Green Bay for two days and carried just this season, and a multi-tasking wide receiver with five carries this season.
Lacy was listed as questionable for last week’s game against Dallas. Rather than promote Jackson last week, the Packers had only Lacy as a true running back on the roster. He gained 65 yards on 17 carries, using a combination of power, leaping ability and guts to average 3.8 yards per carry. Whether the decision to play Lacy in that game had anything to do with the necessity of surgery is unknowable.
If Lacy indeed is recalled from injured reserve toward the end of the season, that would mean cornerback Sam Shields’ season is over. The Packers placed Shields on injured reserve on Tuesday to let him heal from a Week 1 concussion. That was his fourth concussion in the NFL.
There is some positive historical precedent for the Packers. In the 2010 opener, Ryan Grant, who was coming off back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons, suffered a season-ending ankle injury. The Packers got in the playoffs and a rookie who carried only 29 times in the regular season, Starks, carried the running game through the playoffs and helped the Packers win the Super Bowl.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.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.