Up to this point in the season, the Packers' offensive backield has changed frequently due to injuries. But when the Packers return from their mid-season break and begin preparing for the Denver Broncos, all four of Green Bay's running backs should be at, or very near, full strength - at least for the next game.
Wynn missed most of training camp with a stomach virus and quadriceps injury. Jackson was healthy throughout training camp, but injured his shin Sept. 30 at Minnesota, and has missed the last two games. Vernand Morency injured the patellar tendon in his right knee on the first day of training camp and is getting back up to speed in recent weeks. Ryan Grant was acquired in a trade by the Packers from the New York Giants early in the season and should be comfortable with the Packers offense.
At this point, it is likely that McCarthy will choose between Wynn or Jackson to start on a consistent basis in Green Bay's final 10 games. The coach could have activated Jackson for Sunday's game against Washington, but kept him inactive. Wynn got the start with Morency and Grant as backups.
"We'll give some time to that whole rotation," said McCarthy. "We have an extra two days of practice in our prep for Denver, so we'll get a few more reps that way. I think Brandon has been very consistent. You could make the case that he's been the most consistent back as far as doing everything that's asked at that position. DeShawn has done some really good things running the football. He gets nicked a couple times during the course of the game, comes in and out. I'd like to see him fight through that. And I think Vernand has been solid for us in his situational play. That's tough to find the right formula there with those four guys."
Wynn should continue to get the starting nod. He leads the Packers with 202 yards rushing, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. More than his per carry average, Wynn has shown the instincts and ability to make big plays, despite the fact that his conditioning is questionable.
If Wynn can take a pounding and carry the bulk of the load at running back, the Packers should be able to gain more respectability on the ground as the season progresses. And that's all McCarthy can hope to achieve. The Packers can definitely pass the ball, but they have to be somewhat respectable running the ball to keep defenses honest.
Morency, the favorite to win the starting job at the start of training camp, hasn't been the same since his injury. He gets tackled too easily by defenders, and he has hobbled to the sideline in each of the last two games. Though he returned in each game, his durability is a bigger issue than Wynn's.
Jackson probably will be the odd man out in this equation, or he might be pushing Morency to play as the third-down back. Jackson had a number of chances to show that he can make a big play with the first-team offense in training camp and early this season, but didn't make the most of his opportunity. He is more familiar with the offense than the other backs, but he needs more time to develop and the Packers need someone to produce immediately.
Grant is the sleeper of the bunch, but he is new to the system, and may be more of a threat later in the season, or next year.
Wynn is Green Bay's best bet at running back. He has given Packers fans snapshots of his ability to run with the ball. If given more opportunities, he can help the Packers get their rushing attack back on track.
Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.