The pads just went on. The rookies just started running close to full speed. And already we’re getting reports that fouth-round pick Johnathan Franklin is impressing at running back at Green Bay Packers training camp, while second-round selection Eddie Lacy has been described as everything from “out of shape” to “fat.”
First of all, it’s way too early to make any judgments. Second of all, it should be noted that just because they are both running backs doesn’t mean they are competing for the same carries in the same offensive sets.
A photo of Lacy that stormed social media on Monday showed an angle that made him look overweight; that quickly was debunked. (Bill Barnwell hilariously texted, “You don’t check Twitter for a half hour and somehow Eddie Lacy’s gained 20 pounds and lost them all already.”)
Meanwhile, Franklin is drawing raves – which is wonderful news. Could it be the Packers got a serious bargain in round four? Anything’s possible. Especially after less than a week of training camp. (See what I did there?)
But PackersNews.com had plenty to say about Franklin, describing him as showing plenty of burst and shiftiness. The same article also notes that Lacy had an “uneventful” first day in pads, but also pointed out that 7-on-7 drills play far more to Franklin’s skill set than to Lacy’s. In fact, a follow-up on Tuesday afternoon reported that now Lacy is looking every bit the red-zone back he was drafted to be.
Nevertheless, naturally bloggers and other writers trying to make a splash are posting stories such as this one, directly comparing the two and wondering which one will emerge victorious. The story even goes so far as to state, “Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin are set to battle it out as the starting running back for the Packers.”
OK, last time I checked, both of the rookie runners were running behind Alex Green and James Starks in drills. We also may see the return of a guy named DuJuan Harris in the next couple of weeks. We have no idea how this might shake out.
The key point here is that it’s Week 1 of training camp, not the regular season – or even preseason – so let’s keep our heads and remember that whomever starts for the Packers in the real Week 1, Lacy and Franklin are far more likely to complement one another in Green Bay’s new-look running game, not compete directly.
Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal-Sentinal writer Bob McGuinn has already speculated that when it all shakes out, Lacy will get about 50 percent of the carries and Franklin about 40 percent. In fact, he believes the true competition right now is Franklin vs. John Kuhn for passing-down reps.
Bottom line, it’s far too early in any case to make this a race, especially when one “competitor” is best cast as the speed horse and the other best cast as a workhorse.