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Green Bay — In Eddie Lacy, the Green Bay Packers realize they have a valuable asset. One that played through countless injuries at Alabama, one that can finally stymie Cover 2 defenses and one that's needed for the stretch run.
So after the rookie of the year amassed 342 total carries/receptions in 2013 — absorbing and delivering several titanic collisions — quite possibly the Packers attacked 2014 with a different plan.
After averaging 12.9 carries his first 10 weeks, Lacy had 25 attempts at Minnesota (for 125 yards) and 21 attempts against New England (for 98 yards).
As left guard Josh Sitton said this week, splitting Lacy’s workload with James Starks early seems like part of a long-term plan.
“His number of carries wasn’t a whole lot, really until the Minnesota game,” Sitton said. “That’s by design, I believe, with Mike (McCarthy) getting James a lot of reps early in the year. I’ve always said that he’s the guy you’re going to see the benefit of after Carry 20 and after Game 10. Late in the season when we need to pound it, you’re going to see the benefit of Eddie Lacy.”
Coach Mike McCarthy has said he’s well aware how many times his players touch the football. He also has informed the team this week how poorly they ran against this Atlanta Falcons front three of their last four meetings.
If the team needed a source of motivation after the emotional high of beating New England, this would be a place to start.
The Falcons’ 21st ranked run defense held Lacy to 3.3 yards per carry last year. In the 2011 meeting, Green Bay averaged 2.9 per carry as a team. In the 2010 postseason, the Packers' 48-21 win at Atlanta may be Aaron Rodgers’ greatest game to date. But in their regular-season meeting that year, Brandon Jackson averaged 2.6 per carry.
Running backs coach Sam Gash wouldn’t get into Lacy’s workload.
Asked if it helps that Lacy didn’t go through as much wear and tear early --- the most the back carried the ball before Nov. 23 was 17 times --- he said running backs must prepare for anything.
“You train in the off-season to have the wear and tear,” Gash said. “If you don’t, it’s a blessing. If you do, you should be fresh and ready to go. And that’s more of a mind-set.
“He’s the same guy from the first day I got here in April and met him and talked to him. He’s that same guy.”
Granted a lot of it had to do with Rodgers' absence, but Lacy averaged 21.8 carries the first three months of his rookie season. He continued to run hard into December, yet did battle through an ankle sprain and asthma.
However you slice it, Lacy seems to be in good shape for the stretch run.
Whenever asked about his physical condition, Lacy has answered with a simple “I’m cool.” And one guy blocking for him doesn’t see any difference.
“I don’t know if you compare Eddie from Game 1 to Game 16 if he ever really changes,” fullback John Kuhn said. “The same with James and the same with DuJuan. These guys are hard workers. They prepare their bodies in the off-season for a long season. I don’t know why the coaches sub the guys the way they do.
“All of our running backs are prepared for a big workload every day of the season for all 16 games.”
By Tyler Dunne | jsonline.com | December 7, 2014