Green Bay Packers coach intent on preserving Eddie Lacy as a productive player | Eddie Lacy

Green Bay Packers coach intent on preserving Eddie Lacy as a productive player


Thanks Coach! Most important thing on my mind is helping the team win football games and get to the Superbowl. I just try to help whenever I can. Looking forward to the 2015 season.



Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy is accustomed to fielding questions about how often running back Eddie Lacy carries the ball. Lacy's production would seem to call for the Packers to give the former Alabama star more chances. Last season, Lacy placed seventh in the NFL with 1,139 rushing yards even though his average of 15.4 carries per game ranked 13th.

For McCarthy, keeping a rein on Lacy's carries is one of the factors that keeps him productive, especially considering the running back's hard-charging style that involves inflicting and absorbing punishment. Lacy has suffered a concussion in each of his first two NFL seasons.

Last season, Lacy averaged 4.63 yards per carry. According to Pro Football Focus, he averaged picking up 2.82 yards per carry after first contact with a defender, the third-best figure in the league behind star ball-carriers Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks and Arian Foster of the Houston Texans. The web site also ranked Lacy fourth among running backs in forcing missed tackles.

Eddie Lacy Running Back Green Bay Packers

McCarthy increased Lacy's load as the season went along. In the first 10 games of 2014, Lacy reached as high as 17 carries in a game once. In the final six, he had at least 17 carries four times. In three playoff games, Lacy ran the ball 61 times - 21, 19 and 21 times. And, as McCarthy planned, Lacy didn't have to be handed the ball to run with it last season.

"I thought we were really smart the way we used him," McCarthy said at the NFL's annual meeting last week. "I thought his pass protection, he made a huge jump and his ability to play out of the backfield. Eddie has excellent hands, and just his understanding and his feel with (quarterback) Aaron (Rodgers), he definitely made a step."

Lacy earned the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2013, but McCarthy had an offseason assignment for him: Go from a bruising runner to a complete back, one who could play all three downs.

"I really felt that last year's conversation was more important than this year's -- the ability to make a huge jump from Year 1 to 2, being a three-down player," the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel quoted McCarthy as saying. "That was something we stressed from Day 1, and I thought he delivered."

In 2014, Lacy caught 42 passes for 427 yards. His average of 10.2 yards per reception ranked third among NFL running backs that caught at least 20 passes.

The added production in the passing game allowed Lacy to finish ninth in the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,566 in 2014.

"I'm conscientious of how many times each guy touches the ball, how much each guy plays, especially the running back," McCarthy said. "I think you have to be smart there."




By Mark Inabinett | | March 30, 2015



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