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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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