Lacy Continues to Carry Load in Running Game

Eddie Lacy is doing what hasn't been done in Green Bay for more than a decade in terms of workload. Lacy said he's doing fine in the aftermath of a 33-touch game at Minnesota. Coach Mike McCarthy's focus, however, "being in the playoffs."

The Green Bay Packers hoped James Starks' return would take some of the workload off of rookie Eddie Lacy.

And it did on Sunday night at Minnesota.

Sort of.

Starks, coming off a one-month absence with an injured knee, carried the ball seven times in his return. During the three games Starks missed, Johnathan Franklin and John Kuhn combined to carry the ball eight times.

However, Lacy got the ball a career-high 29 times, plus caught four passes for a total of 33 touches.

"I don't feel bad," Lacy said on Wednesday. "I thought I was going to be a lot sorer, I'm not feeling too bad."

"I was sore the next day but my body, it got back unsore, I guess you could say, around the same amount of time as it did weeks before, so I'm just going to continue to go," Lacy added later.

This is uncharted territory for the bruising rookie. Lacy only had 20 carries in a game twice while at Alabama — in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia and, a month later, in the BCS National Championship Game against Notre Dame. He averaged 14.6 carries as a junior in 2012 and had more than 15 carries in a game just seven times in his three-year collegiate career.

Lacy ranks 13th in the league with 112 carries but is fifth with 18.7 carries per game. That number, however, is artificially low, because it includes his one-carry game against Washington, when he was knocked out with a concussion.

Over the last four games, he's had games of 23, 23, 22 and 29 carries, giving him a four-game total of 97 carries. That's the most work for a Packers running back since 2008, when Ryan Grant had back-to-back games of 33 and 31 carries en route to a four-game tally of 102 rushes. In fact, the Packers haven't had a running back with four consecutive games of 20-plus carries since Ahman Green did it in seven consecutive games in 2003.

At 230-ish pounds, Lacy has the body to handle the work. But he's also taken a pounding at times.

Running backs coach Alex Van Pelt said last week that Lacy has played so well that it's hard to take him off the field.

Still, coach Mike McCarthy after Sunday's game acknowledged the need to be wise with Lacy's carries — even though he gave it to Lacy four times on the team's second-to-last series with the Packers in control at 44-24.

"Well, you never really want to just go run one guy 30 times. I've said that from the beginning," McCarthy said. "Everybody wants the 1,5(00), 1,600-yard rusher. I've always been happy with a 1,100-yard rusher because I'm planning on being in the playoffs. So, I want him running the same way in January and February as he runs in September, October. You've got to be conscientious of that, especially with Eddie Lacy's running style."

Starks certainly has earned more of a workload, and he figures to get a bigger and bigger chunk of the action as he rounds back into form. He carried seven times for 57 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown, against Minnesota. He's averaging 6.0 yards per carry.

"It definitely helps out," Lacy said of Starks getting back into action. "We can play faster and we can take those breaks and the running game and the offense is still going, still on the same pace, so that definitely helps out."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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