After having a week off, the Green Bay Packers return to practice today a little healthier. Starting running back Eddie Lacy has returned to the field after suffering a concussion on his first carry in week two against the Washington Redskins.
Lacy sat out week three’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals after being a game-time decision. According to Coach McCarthy, Lacy is back to full strength and should be ready to start against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
“I thought he practiced well. He’s full go and a week off definitely helped him.” — Coach McCarthy
The Packers should feel encouraged with Lacy’s return. Their ground game has already posted two 100-yard rushers this season, but neither one has been the Packers’ second round pick from Alabama.
The Packers would definitely like to see Lacy get into a rhythm against a Detroit defense that ranks 20th in the league in rushing and giving up an average of 110.8 yards on the ground per game. They also allow 5.2 yards per rushing attempt, which ties them for 28th in the NFL this season.
Lacy could get plenty of opportunities on Sunday, especially if the other running backs on the roster are still dealing with injuries.
James Starks sat out practice today and is still trying to recover from the knee injury he suffered late in the second quarter against Cincinnati. Starks is probably a long shot to play this week and could miss a few games if the injury proves to be serious. Starks did go through multiple tests to examine the knee over the break, but the Packers aren’t releasing any specific information on the injury until this Wednesday. So until then, we won’t really have any indication how long Starks could be out.
John Kuhn, the Packers only fullback on the roster, also missed practice today. He is still dealing with a lingering hamstring injury he suffered in week two. Kuhn already missed the game against Cincinnati, and he could miss another one this week.
The Packers missed the veteran back’s presence on third downs when both Starks and Franklin went out of the game, but tight end Andrew Quarless filled in nicely as the Packers fullback in base sets. Quarless may be asked to play a similar role against Detroit if Kuhn is a scratch for the game.
The good news is the Packers’ other rookie running back, Jonathan Franklin, did practice today after sustaining a foot injury at the end of the week three loss in Cincinnati. Franklin will provide a good change-of-pace playing behind Lacy on Sunday. With Franklin already rushing for 103 yards in a single half, the rookie duo could prove to be effective in the Packers’ backfield.
Even with Lacy and Franklin getting healthy and practicing, the Packers signed practice squad running back, Michael Hill, to the active roster today. With Hill, Green Bay will have three healthy backs going into their divisional matchup against the Lions.
The Packers don’t want a repeat of the Cincinnati loss where wide receivers Randall Cobb and Jeremy Ross had to fill in as emergency backs for a drive when Franklin left the game after injuring his foot.
Even with Starks and Kuhn sitting out, Green Bay’s backfield is slowly getting healthier with Lacy’s return. Both Lacy and Franklin will be key parts to the Packers’ game plan in defeating division rival Detroit Lions at Lambeau on Sunday.
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