ITEM ADDED TO CART
Green Bay — Eddie Lacy of the Green Bay Packers is perfectly capable of leading the National Football League in rushing this season.
"Without a doubt," Sam Gash, the team's running backs coach, said Monday. "He has the capability of being the leading rusher and maybe even combined yards if he catches a lot of balls. I absolutely do think that.
"I think he's a bell cow. He's a big guy, and he's physical."
The NFL first recorded rushing champions in 1932. In those 72 seasons, the only Packer to win the rushing title was fullback Jim Taylor with 1,474 yards in 1962.
In 10 seasons, a Packer has finished second. The list includes Clarke Hinkle in 1937; Tony Canadeo in '49; Howie Ferguson in '55; Taylor in '60, '61, '63 and '64; John Brockington in '71 and '73; and Ahman Green in '03.
As a rookie, Lacy finished eighth with 1,178 yards. The leader, Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy, gained 1,607.
McCoy also led the NFL in combined yards from scrimmage with 2,146, including 539 receiving yards. Lacy ranked 14th with 1,435 yards, including 257 receiving.
A Packer has led the league five times in rushing-receiving yards. The list includes Don Hutson in 1941, '42 and '44; Billy Howton in '52; Taylor in '62.
Last season, Lacy carried 284 times, the NFL's fifth-highest total.
The Packers have groomed Lacy to play in every situation this season. Largely because of pass-protection and overuse issues, Lacy was removed in some passing and two-minute situations.
"That's coach's call," Gash said, referring to how Mike McCarthy intends to use Lacy. "But I have trained him as a three-down back. He will be ready to go."
Counting playoffs, Lacy averaged 44.7 snaps and 60.3% playing time in 16 games. Throwing out the one game he missed entirely and the two games in which he departed early due to injury, his averages were 48.1 snaps and 70.7% playing time.
McCoy played 79.1% of the Eagles' offensive snaps in 2013.
After watching Lacy play 20 snaps and gain 83 yards in 13 exhibition touches, one scout said, "He's a rare player. He has no weaknesses. He can catch, run, block."
Last week, quarterback Aaron Rodgers was asked about the Packers' chances to field a hard-to-stop rushing attack in 2014.
"We did a better job of it last year," he said. "We're always searching for balance, but we've got to play to our strengths."
Second start: Matt Flynn, the starter in the exhibition opener, probably will start the finale Thursday night against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau Field.
Flynn worked with the No. 1 offense Monday ahead of Scott Tolzien as Rodgers worked mostly with the scout team, a sign he'll sit out.
"I'd like to see those guys get equal time," quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said.
Van Pelt said both Flynn, who has 63 snaps and a 61.9 passer rating in exhibition games, and Tolzien, with 77 snaps and a 104.9 rating, rated as legitimate No. 2 quarterbacks.
"It's out there on tape," he said. "I think they are real solid players that can play in the league."
Will Van Pelt jump on the proverbial table later in the week fighting to keep three quarterbacks when general manager Ted Thompson seeks his opinion?
"Well, I don't think that's my job," he said. "My job is to make them have to make a decision if they should keep three. I'm not going to get involved in that."
If the Packers release one of the players and he ends up helping a rival team, Van Pelt would chalk it up to breaks of the game.
"If that happens then good for him," he said. "Anybody I've had to let go in the past, I hope they work somewhere else, I really do."
Meanwhile, Rodgers and the No. 1 offense ran Chiefs' plays against the defense Monday. Rodgers threw the ball as spectacularly as he has all summer.
"He was having fun," Van Pelt said. "He made some throws out there, you look at each other and go, 'Wow.' He put on a show."
Guion's return: On Sunday, Letroy Guion insisted he was ready. On Monday, he practiced for the first time all training camp.
Back from his hamstring injury, the veteran nose tackle looked like someone with fresh legs. During the half-line drill, he overwhelmed the offensive line to stop LaDarius Perkins for one 5-yard loss. With B.J. Raji (biceps) out for the season, the Packers needed a veteran presence on the defensive line.
On a more limited basis, Guion's first day was a success.
"He looked explosive," McCarthysaid. "I really liked what I saw from Letroy. He's coming off of the injury. I thought he got off to a good start."
Missing all of camp does mean Guion has to play catch up to an extent, even though he has more pro experience than the rest of the defensive line combined. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers said coaches will ease him back.
"You don't want to set him back," Capers said. "So that's the most important thing. The nice thing is getting him back now, we got him some reps today. We'll work him through this week and hopefully he'll be more ready to go next week when we get into a real game plan.
"We like what we saw through the off-season....He's a big physical guy who's a good athlete. I think he can rush the passer a little bit."
Trust in Linsley: Rodgers thought he'd finally get some stability at center this summer in JC Tretter, his fourth starting center in four years. With Tretter now out "multiple weeks" with a knee injury, it's on to a fifth center.
Week 1 is approaching, but Rodgers doesn't see this as some quantum leap for the fifth-round pick from Ohio State.
"It's going to be a sped-up process obviously with Corey, getting him up to speed," Rodgers said. "But there's an expectation when you're with the first team that you're going to play well and pick up where the other guy left off."
By | Bob McGin