Green Bay Packers rookie running back Eddie Lacy will not play in Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Lacy suffered a concussion on his first carry in the Packers 38-20 home opening win over the Washington Redskins last week.
Lacy is not the only Packer in the offensive backfield who is battling the injury bug, however. Versatile veteran offensive back John Kuhn has a hamstring injury and he will also not play Sunday. With Lacy and Kuhn both ruled out, the Packers will only have two players at running back: veteran James Starks and rookie Johnathan Franklin. The running back position was already ailing in training camp after potential starter DuJuan Harris suffered a season-ending knee injury.
In Week 15 of the 2011 season, the Packers notably went into a road game with only two activated running backs. The results? An upset-loss against the Kansas City Chiefs, the team’s lone loss in a 15-1 regular season. The Packers will have an extremely difficult Sunday afternoon to find offensive balance, as they will have a hard time keeping a very good Bengals’ defense on their heels, and have trouble avoiding another potential meltdown similar to Kansas City in 2011.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said earlier this week that 3
Starks would be the “definite starter” on Sunday at Cincinnati, even if Lacy was cleared to play. Last week, Starks rushed for a career-high 132 yards on 20 carries and scored a touchdown. Starks became the first Packers running back since Brandon Jackson in 2010 to rush for at least 100 yards in a game.
Franklin, one of three Packers fourth-round selections in April’s Draft, will likely see the field from the running back position for the first time in his NFL career. At UCLA, Franklin rushed for a school-record 4,403 yards while scoring 34 total touchdowns in four seasons with the Bruins. McCarthy said earlier this week that he was hoping to get Franklin into last week’s game, but decided to continue riding the “hot-hand” Starks.
The Packers are a pass-first offense and the weather in Cincinnati (high of 69 degrees, sunny skies, light breeze) is perfect for quarterback Aaron Rodgers and company to throw the football around on Sunday. Having only two running backs on the roster will make a significant difference,however, and fans can only hope that Starks and Franklin can shoulder the load from a very shallow position.