On Now
Coming Up
  • Sat., Mar. 07, 2015 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM CST Project Play 60

    ‘Project Play 60’, the Green Bay Packers’ event that is focused on getting kids out of the house to enjoy non-strenuous physical activity, is set for Saturday, March 7.

    The free community event is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will take place in both the Lambeau Field Atrium and the Legends Club on the fourth floor. Parking will be free for guests participating in Project Play 60, and attendees may enter the Atrium through the Oneida Nation Gate, American Family Insurance Gate or Miller Lite Gate.

  • Sat., Mar. 07, 2015 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM CST Johnnie Gray appearance NO MORE Violence Fundraiser
  • Mon., Mar. 23, 2015 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM CDT Sam Barrington appearance Sister Bay Lions Club Youth Night
  • Tue., Apr. 14, 2015 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM CDT Tailgate Tour (Menomonie)

    The Green Bay Packers announced plans for the 10th anniversary ‘Green Bay Packers Tailgate Tour,’ set for April 14-18. This year’s tour includes three stops in western Wisconsin, in addition to stops in southern and eastern Wisconsin, to visit with fans and thank them in person for their support.

    Tour celebrities will include Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy, players Andrew Quarless, Micah Hyde and Casey Hayward, and Packers alumni Gilbert Brown, Antonio Freeman and Bill Schroeder. The tour will also feature special alumni in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Tailgate Tour, Dave Robinson and Jerry Kramer.

  • Wed., Apr. 15, 2015 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM CDT Tailgate Tour (Prairie du Chien)

    The Green Bay Packers announced plans for the 10th anniversary ‘Green Bay Packers Tailgate Tour,’ set for April 14-18. This year’s tour includes three stops in western Wisconsin, in addition to stops in southern and eastern Wisconsin, to visit with fans and thank them in person for their support.

    Tour celebrities will include Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy, players Andrew Quarless, Micah Hyde and Casey Hayward, and Packers alumni Gilbert Brown, Antonio Freeman and Bill Schroeder. The tour will also feature special alumni in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Tailgate Tour, Dave Robinson and Jerry Kramer.

  • Thu., Apr. 16, 2015 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM CDT Tailgate Tour (Baraboo)

    The Green Bay Packers announced plans for the 10th anniversary ‘Green Bay Packers Tailgate Tour,’ set for April 14-18. This year’s tour includes three stops in western Wisconsin, in addition to stops in southern and eastern Wisconsin, to visit with fans and thank them in person for their support.

    Tour celebrities will include Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy, players Andrew Quarless, Micah Hyde and Casey Hayward, and Packers alumni Gilbert Brown, Antonio Freeman and Bill Schroeder. The tour will also feature special alumni in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Tailgate Tour, Dave Robinson and Jerry Kramer.

News

Print
RSS

Aaron Rodgers still looking for that eighth man

Posted Oct 2, 2013

Rookie running backs set to carry the load on Sunday

Rookie RBs Eddie Lacy (27) and Johnathan Franklin (23)

GREEN BAY—If the Packers keep running the ball like they have the past two games, defenses will be forced to respect it.

That will be evident when an eighth defender, presumably a safety, begins regularly creeping down into the “box,” the area between the defensive ends and within a few yards of the line of scrimmage.

That eighth guy, however, hasn’t yet caught quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ eye, at least not often enough.

“He’s still kind of off in the distance a little bit,” Rodgers said on Wednesday, cracking a smile.

Rodgers was smiling, of course, because he would welcome getting a closer look at that safety. It would obviously open up more throwing lanes for one of the league’s most potent passers.

That’s the cat-and-mouse dynamic that will define where the Packers go on offense from here. With more than 300 rushing yards in their last two games, the Packers are confident in their ability to run, and the fact that it hasn’t mattered which running back is getting the ball underscores that confidence.

The Packers have posted back-to-back 100-yard rushers after going 44 regular-season games without one, and neither of the two guys – James Starks and Johnathan Franklin – who hit the century mark carries the label of No. 1 back. That’s rookie Eddie Lacy, who returns this week from a concussion.

“It says something about everybody,” left guard Josh Sitton said. “We’ve made it a point of emphasis this year. We’ve tried to get better at it and we have. The backs are doing a lot of good things, the line is doing a lot of good things. We’re communicating really well right now.”

The ground game started to find its legs in the fourth quarter of Week 1 at San Francisco, when Lacy pounded out 26 yards on five carries to key a go-ahead touchdown drive.

But Lacy suffered the concussion on a helmet hit on his first carry of Week 2 vs. Washington, a 10-yard burst. Starks stepped in and rushed for 132 yards on 20 carries against the Redskins, adding another 55 yards on 14 attempts in the first half at Cincinnati in Week 3.

Then Starks departed with a knee injury and in came the rookie Franklin to rip off 103 yards on 13 carries, including a 51-yard scamper, the team’s longest run since Brandon Jackson’s 71-yarder back in Week 5 of 2010.

This week, with Starks already ruled out due to his knee, it will be Lacy and Franklin carrying the load against a formidable Detroit front, anchored by the defensive-tackle tandem of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.

“Those guys all offer a different dimension with their style of runs,” Rodgers said of the backs. “I think the future is bright for those guys running the football, and we have to keep finding ways to give them opportunities.”

Continued production will accomplish that, though it’s tough to pinpoint a single reason for the obvious improvement.

Rodgers was quick to credit the offensive line for “opening up some big holes,” but Head Coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t about to discount the work of the backs themselves.

He told a story from 1993, his first year as an assistant coach in Kansas City, when Jimmy Raye – then the Chiefs running backs coach who has served as offensive coordinator for multiple NFL teams – wrote on the board in the meeting room that “the production of the run game is directly related to the runner.” Kansas City's top back then was a Hall of Famer, Marcus Allen, but the point was still clear.

Starks has always flashed big-time ability when healthy, but the additions of Lacy and Franklin in the draft have upgraded the position as a whole in McCarthy’s mind considerably.

“I look at running back really the same way you look at the quarterback – they’re decision-makers,” McCarthy said. “They have to run through the right hole and set the blocks. Good runners make the run-blocking unit better. That’s a fact.”

It’s also a fact that a little more than two games doesn’t prove a team can run the ball consistently. Detroit’s defensive line will provide a legitimate test, though the Lions have allowed two long TD runs against NFC North foes already this season. Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson went 78 yards on Detroit’s first defensive snap of the season, and Chicago’s Matt Forte took one 53 yards to paydirt last week.

No doubt the Packers have studied those plays, and the guys up front will look to create similar creases. Meanwhile, Rodgers will be looking at that safety.

“You take it week by week,” right guard T.J. Lang said. “If we go out this week and lay an egg, nobody is really going to remember the last two games.

“We understand we have to keep building on it, make sure we’re consistent with it, before you can really say that we’re dominant running the ball. You have to make sure you’re building on each performance.”

Additional coverage - Oct. 2

 
blog comments powered by Disqus

You May Also Be Interested in...

Recent Videos

  • Prospect Primer: TE Maxx Williams, Minnesota

    (2:39) Posted 3 hours ago

    Packers.com presents 'Prospect Primer,' a video look at an assortment of draft-eligible players who attended the scouting combine in Indianapolis. Minnesota TE Maxx Williams averaged a whopping 16.2 yards per catch on his 61 receptions over two seasons playing for the Gophers. Also caught 13 TD passes in those two years.

  • Top 20 Games of 2014: Packers vs. Dolphins (#17)

    (3:35) Posted 23 hours ago

    20 years after defeating the New York Jets with Dan Marino's fake spike, the Miami Dolphins fell victim to a similar finish against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

  • Prospect Primer: RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

    (3:15) Posted Mar 3, 2015

    Packers.com presents 'Prospect Primer,' a video look at an assortment of draft-eligible players who attended the scouting combine in Indianapolis. Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon set the FBS record for career rushing average with 7.79 yards per carry. His 2,587 yards in 2014 were a Big Ten record and second-most in FBS history behind only Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders in 1988.