James Starks scores on a 22-yard touchdown run in the 3rd quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports photograph

James Starks: The odd man out


James Starks during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field last Dec. 2. The Packers defeated the Vikings 23-14.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson sent their message loud and clear to Alex Green, DuJuan Harris and especially James Starks on draft weekend by selecting not one, but two running backs and also picking up another – Angelo Pease – as an undrafted free agent.

Clearly, the Green Bay Packers brass have not been pleased with the past performance, or lack thereof, of their in-house running backs. Many feel that Harris and probably Green will be the two running backs who should have the best shot at remaining on the Packers roster once it’s all said and done, while the oft-injured and inconsistent James Starks is the odd man out.

In fact, rumors swirled draft weekend that Starks was on the trading block, but nothing happened.

Alex Green
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Rookies Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, barring any unforeseen circumstances, will be on the the roster, while Green and Harris, depending on what they do in training camp, will also be there

That leaves Starks and Pease as the players who will most likely be fighting for a job. We don’t know much about Pease other than the fact that McCarthy seems to really like him – calling him out not once, but twice in his press conferences held during and after the rookie orientation sessions.

I think everyone really likes Starks – when he’s healthy. But those times have been far and few between. We all know how he ignited the Packers offense late in 2010, helping the franchise to its fourth Super Bowl Championship. Then it seemed every time we turned around the guy was hurt. He was on the shelf for most of last season, came back against Minnesota in December and had a solid game.

In that Minnesota game, Starks carried the ball 16 times for 66 yards, and pulled off a 22-yard touchdown run where he looked like his old self.

And then got hurt once more.

Though he could have played in the playoffs, we never saw him. His spot had been taken by Harris and to a certain extent Ryan Grant.

In all, he played in only six games last season, carrying the ball 71 times for 255 yards – a 3.6 yard per-carry average.

Do the Packers take a chance on the guy once more if he comes back and has a strong training camp? Or do they just cut their losses, continue to try to trade him and if they can’t, then cut him? It’s not like the team doesn’t have a crowded backfield already.We know that Starks can hit holes and pick up yards after being hit. He seems like a tough runner, but his injury history tells us otherwise.

He’s been productive when he’s healthy, but in my mind I just can’t see the team taking any more chances on the guy. Yes, they should try to trade him and if nobody wants the damaged goods, then the Packers should let him walk.

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  • Taryn Miller

    I think the Packers need to be cautious in the Harris thinking.Teams played to stop the pass and were willing to let the run go a little.If as many assume,the Pack will run more to ease the pass defense,getting those holes may not be so easy as it appeared with some runs.
    I’d still take Starks over Green and the ‘Please Pease Me’ will make the PS.If Lacy and Franklin prove to be able to block in pass mode,and the 3rd an shorts more frequently obtainable,Kuhn would be gone with,Lacy,Franklin,Harris Starks and then Green if keeping 5 backs.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ray.rivard.963 Ray Rivard

      Good point, Taryn. Given that Franklin is a similar runner to Harris, it may not be necessary to keep both of them.

    • Mike Brand

      i doubt starks makes the team . they offered him in trade and nobody wanted him so why should we. its 2013 not 2010 since 2010 he has done nothing but stayed injured

  • [email protected]

    Starks, as of last training camp, still didn’t know the offense! You saw Rodgers yelling at him a couple of different times! Rodgers NEVER yells at anyone on the field! He cannot block, he’s never healthy, he’s not a threat out of the backfield. He’s done!

  • Mike Brand

    got to let starks go.we can not keep a guy because what he did a few years ago. he is holding up a roster spot. what happens next if he gets injured and rides then irl all season again. just way to much risk with him. i think lacy and franklin are going to be 1 and 2 with harris or green at 3 . i have a feeling its the last year for green to prove himself as well . pease i see on the practice squad til green gets benched or injured again. but starks i just dont see getting to practice in july .if not traded he will be let go . either way it will not hurt the packers cap wise

  • Nerd

    Runs too high. If he can lower his center of gravity and stay behind his pads, I think he could stay healthier. This has always been the rap on him.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/lou.buell Lou Buell

    At times over 3 years Starks has looked like “the guy” but the injury thing goes back to his college days and based on where he was drafted the team hoped it was not a pattern. Unfortunately it is a pattern. Based on where Green was taken it would appear he will take that last RB job even though he appears to be a carbon copy of Brandon Jackson (possibly a solid 3rd down back but no instincts to run the ball effectively all game). Based on the way Harris finished last season he will get his chances. With his lower body strength and quickness he would be the ideal replacement for Cobb on kick returns.

  • Troy J

    I have heard it alot that we should lt Starks go and keep Green I don’t understand this thought Process at all. Stark when healthy has atleast proved he can be a productive running back in the NFL. Green was given a chance, about a 5 game stretch or so and averaged about 2 yards per carry and quite frankly look lost. Made bad decisions, went down with first contact, really showed nothing . I say yes Starks can’t stay healthy and we should move on from him, But not to keep Green he hasn’t shown that he deserves a roster spot either. Go with Harris, Lacy, Franklin, and who ever wins the fourth roster spot, likely pease, and kuhn.

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