The emergence of Eddie Lacy at running back for the Green Bay Packers brings something they have not had in a while — a steady starter. This makes them more than the one-dimensional team as has been the case in the last couple of seasons. Lacy helps the Packers not only with his running, but also through the air as he may open up more play-action opportunities. Initially slated as the top running back in the 2013 draft, Lacy fell to the Packers in the second round because of injury fears. The powerful style of running that Lacy possesses increases the probability of injury, making the players behind him at running back even more important.
James Starks was the primary backup for Lacy last season. Starks is 27-years-old and will be heading into his fifth season with Green Bay. He rushed for just shy of 500 yards last year and had a career-high 5.5 yards per carry. During 2011 and 2012 it was thought that Starks could become the Packers’ primary running back, but those expectations were not met. This forced the Packers to start looking in a different direction. Starks’ stock has slowly been falling, and he will have to show his worth this offseason and in camp to remain the No. 2 back.
DuJuan Harris is a 25-year-old who will be entering his fourth season in the NFL. Harris is a small but speedy back who emerged as a threat late in the 2012 season. During the following preseason, Harris had multiple knee injuries that forced him to spend the entire 2013 season on the injured reserve list. Prior to the injury, Harris was No. 1 on the Packers’ depth chart heading into the 2013 preseason. Harris has the potential to surprise and become a very suitable second running back.
Johnathan Franklin may be the most intriguing running back heading into the 2014 season. Franklin is a 24-year-old, fourth-round pick from the 2013 draft. Franklin had a breakout game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3 of his rookie campaign. In that game Franklin had 103 yards on 13 carries and also scored a touchdown. Franklin did have a big turnover as he fumbled the ball late in the game against the Bengals. He was ineffective in any other games and continued to have an issue hanging onto the ball. He was placed on the injured reserve list after Week 6 with a neck injury. If Franklin can curtail his fumbling issues he could become a solid speed back to complement the power of Lacy.
In 2014 don’t be surprised to see Franklin emerge as a solid second option to Lacy. Franklin has the speed and awareness to handle the position. One year of NFL experience under his belt should certainly help. Starks’ time seems to be running out with the Packers. Green Bay should really try to see what they potentially have with Harris and Franklin. Lacy is the clear No. 1, but don’t overlook the other potential options at running back. Look for one of the three backups to make some big plays for the Packers in 2014 and emerge as a great complementary back to Lacy.