Eddie Lacy had a great rookie campaign for the Green Bay Packers racking up 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns along the way. Coming out of the gate and setting such a high standard for oneself makes the dreaded term “sophomore slump” come into play far too often.
One of the more famous sophomore slumps turned in by a running back was that of legendary Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris. His rookie campaign he tallied more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. His stat total dropped to 698 yards and only 3 touchdowns in his second campaign. The good story from this, he rallied for six straight 1,000-plus-yard seasons and well, the team did pretty well also.
If we look back to Lacy’s days at Alabama he was very solid and productive in a flock of future NFL running backs. Backing up the likes of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson he was able to average more than 7 yards per carry in both his redshirt freshman and sophomore years before exploding in his redshirt junior season for more than 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Sophomore slumps can be very subjective given the magnitude of a rookie season. You can look no further than Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris as a prime example. Morris broke the single-season Redskins rushing record in a season his rookie year and added 13 touchdowns. His second year in the league saw his numbers drop to 1,275 yards and 7 touchdowns. Many running backs around the league would love that type of season but when you set the bar so high the word “slump” gets kicked around quickly.
The Packers are in probably the best shape in the entire league as far as running backs go. One way they can protect Lacy and not overexert their young star is to use their depth at this position. In 2013, James Starks added a nice second punch and even Johnathan Franklin gave a spark before an injury sidelined him for the season.
This season you can add a healthy DuJuan Harris to the stable of backs that could give Lacy the breathers he may need to raise his 4.1 yards per-carry average closer to that of the 7 yards per carry average he put up at Alabama.
Having depth at running back would probably be looked at by most as a reason statistically Lacy’s sophomore campaign could be labeled a slump. With fresher legs and a healthy Aaron Rodgers for an entire season I could see Eddie Lacy having a great sophomore season and raising the bar even further.