Green Bay Packers (1-2) rookie running back Eddie Lacy is set to return to the field on Sunday against the Detroit Lions (3-1). Lacy hasn’t appeared in a game since suffering a concussion on his first carry of the Packers’ home opening win over the Washington Redskins in Week 2.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said Lacy was a “full-go” in Monday’s practice and he has been cleared to play against the Lions this weekend, barring any possible setbacks. My oh my, this news is tremendously exciting for Packers nation.
In the first three games, the Packers have averaged 128 rushing yards per game, 9th best in the NFL. As of now, the Packers are a better overall rushing team than Adrian Peterson‘s Minnesota Vikings (126.8/game), Alfred Morris‘ Redskins (106/game) and Doug Martin‘s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (100.5/game) among 20 other teams.
Before this season, the Packers hadn’t had a running back rush for over 100 yards in a game since Brandon Jackson in 2010. In back to back weeks, veteran James Starks and rookie Johnathan Franklin have amassed over 100 rushing yards against the Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals, respectively.
Starks and Franklin have been impressive in limited action, and there is no reason to think Lacy can’t have just as much success. Since the second half of the Packers’ season opener against the San Francisco 49ers, Lacy has averaged 4.7 yards per carry and has scored one touchdown.
If Lacy had been cleared to play against the Redskins and Bengals, the second-round rookie could potentially be one of the NFL’s leading rushers right now. The success of the Packers’ rushing attack can be partially credited to the talent in the offensive backfield, but one important aspect hasn’t changed since early August, which is the offensive line.
The success of the Packers’ running game has really boiled down to the improvement in the offensive line and the offensive scheme. Rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari has already proven he is a huge upgrade over Marshall Newhouse and likewise with center Evan Dietrich-Smith over Jeff Saturday.
From left tackle to right tackle, the Packers’ offensive line of Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Dietrich-Smith, T.J. Lang and Don Barclay has been very consistent and deserves great credit for the success of Lacy, Starks and Franklin. The starting five is extremely under-appreciated for Green Bay’s transformation in the running game.
The Packers’ ground game has been great, and it’s been great even without their best runner. It’s time to shake off the jitters and rust, Eddie; Packer nation is excited to have you back.