Starks saw his first action on the Packers’ second drive early in the second quarter. On his first run since being back from the knee injury that has sidelined him the past four weeks, Starks burst up the field for seven yards.
It was a classic run from the four-year halfback. Starks is a slasher. He hits the hole and has the power to punish defenders on the second level.
It’s a dynamic the Packers offense missed with Starks inactive.
Lacy is a pound-the-ball, move-the-chains type of back. He wears the defense down and gets the tough yards. Sunday night was the first time we’ve truly seen the Lacy/Starks complement in the backfield.
Lacy threw the body punches all game and Starks delivered the knockout blow early in the fourth quarter on a 25-yard touchdown run to put Green Bay up 38-17.
Starks only played on two offensive series in the game, but he proved his worth to the team. Add in a pair of 11-yard runs prior to the touchdown burst and Starks showed his explosion out of the backfield, gaining 57 yards on seven carries with a 8.1 rushing average.
Lacy may be the Packers “featured” back and will continue to get the majority of the carries going forward, but if Starks proved anything Sunday night returning from his knee injury, is that there is room for him in this offense as well.
In his Monday press conference, Coach McCarthy said he would like to get Starks “more carries” going forward and that he was pleased with the veteran’s performance. Starks is averaging 6 yards per carry so far this season, and that kind of productivity on the ground is hard to ignore.
Lacy had 29 carries Sunday night and that is a pretty heavy workload for a rookie running back. The Packers need Starks’ to share the load in the backfield so they don’t wear out then rookie come January. Fortunately for the Packers, Starks’ rugged running style is similar enough to Lacy’s that little should change on offense when the backs switch in and out of the lineup.
After rushing for 132 yards in week two against the Washington Redskins and having a 55-yard first half against Cincinnati, Starks has made the most of his opportunities this season. Unfortunately, injuries continue to plague the halfback in his fourth year. Starks has missed the last three and a half games because of a knee injury.
Let’s hope he stays healthy for the remainder of the season. He’ll be an important part of this offense going forward.
For now, the Packers have found their 1-2 punch in the backfield in Starks and Lacy. A duo that demands the defense’s respect.