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Green Bay --- After the 2013 season, the Green Bay Packers offensive linemen watched every play. One conclusion? They needed to finish more blocks in the run game.
With rugged Eddie Lacy and James Starks in the backfield, plays tend to stay alive a tick longer. Too often, guard T.J. Lang explained, linemen let defenders slip off at the end of plays, plays that typically would’ve been over seasons past.
In rushing for 1,178 yards his rookie year, Lacy rarely ever went down on the first tackler.
This summer, they're trying not to assume anything behind them.
“Eddie and James are guys who don’t go down easy,” Lang said. “It’s very different from what we’ve had in the past. Not trying to bash any of our former running backs, but Eddie and James are unusual to where they can two, three, four guys miss. You don’t want your guy making the tackle because you thought Eddie was getting tackled and you let up on your blocks.”
The linemen had to “re-learn” how to finish every single play.
“Because the way Eddie runs, that’s the type of attitude he has,” Lang said. “He’s not going to get brought down by a single guy. He’s going to fight for every single yard. Us up front, we’ve got to have the same attitude.”
That was the case for everyone through their one series with Lacy at St. Louis. Thanks to Jordy Nelson sticking to his block downfield, Lacy gained 13 yards his first run. And both Nelson and left guard Josh Sitton had key blocks on Lacy's seven-yard run.
A year ago, 647 of Lacy's rushing yards came after contact --- more than half. An extra block means something extra for the NFL's Rookie of the Year.
Offensive line coach James Campen sees progress so far.
"The big thing now is to be consistent with it," Campen said, "accelerate as you keep moving up until the opener and get that to where it needs to be — a consistent finish level by everybody all the time.”
"I think it’s important no matter who’s back there. I don’t care who’s running the ball. You could be running the ball. I have to finish for whoever’s carrying the ball. But I think what happens, as players you see a running back — and, hey, James finishes too — and these guys are fighting for extra yards. Your (expletive) better be in front of them, so he can fight even more. If you’re not, then get behind and push him. Those yards add up as everything goes up 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, then all of a sudden the guy can break out and get a long run. It’s important.”
By | Tyler Dunne