GREEN BAY – As pleased as Mike McCarthy was with the production he got from running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks on Sunday night, the Green Bay Packers coach would have preferred to have done a better job balancing out the carries.
Lacy carried 29 times for 94 yards and a touchdown in the Packers’ 44-31 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome, while Starks had seven carries for 57 yards, including a 25-yard TD.
“You can sit here and draw the stuff up on a napkin and you’d probably want to balance it out a little more,” McCarthy said during his usual day-after-the-game press briefing Monday evening. “But at the end of the day, you’re in the game. Eddie was in a groove so we stayed the way we did and obviously it worked out well.”
For the season, Lacy has carried 112 times for 446 yards, and his 112 carries rank 13th in the NFL. Considering Lacy has essentially played only five games – he suffered a concussion in Week 2 on his first carry against Washington on Sept. 15 and sat out the Packers’ Sept. 22 loss at Cincinnati, then the Packers had a bye – that’s a lot of carries for a guy who never had more than 20 attempts in a single game in college.
Over the past four games, during which Lacy has rushed for 395 yards, he had 23 carries against Detroit on Oct. 6, 23 carries at Baltimore on Oct. 13, 22 carries against Cleveland on Oct. 20 and 29 carries Sunday night. The 29 carries were the most by an individual Packers running back since Ryan Grant carried 31 times (for 105 yards) against Indianapolis on Oct. 19, 2008.
Last week, running backs coach Alex Van Pelt acknowledged that the coaches want to be careful with Lacy’s workload but that it’s hard to take him off the field because of his ability.
“Obviously, it’s something that we keep an eye on over the course of the season,” Van Pelt said. “Do I think he can carry it 20, 25 times a game? Yeah. But is it healthy and the best for the team? Maybe, maybe not. It puts him at risk of wearing down late in the season when we’re going to need him.”
For the game, Lacy played 62 of the Packers’ 76 offensive snaps while Starks, who had been sidelined with a knee injury suffered against the Bengals, played only 11.
“When James got his opportunity, I thought he jumped in there and made an impact,” McCarthy said. “He was running hard, downhill, not wasting any steps. He had good reads. That’s why the attempts and things like that, you look at it week to week. I would have liked to have James Starks get a few more carries.”
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