The Green Bay Packers are trying to increase the effectiveness of their Offensive Rookie of the Year running back, Eddie Lacy, by developing his receiving skills. Reports out of training camp indicate that he has been catching passes from Aaron Rodgers, demonstrating great hands, crisp routes and even calling himself “Moss”. This self-assigned nickname is, of course, a reference to Randy Moss, one of the greatest receivers of all time. While it is optimistic and far too soon for anyone to start making such comparisons seriously, increasing Lacy’s catching capacity will have amazing benefits for the Packers.
Throughout Lacy’s college career and his rookie season, he didn’t catch the ball enough to call him an elite threat out of the backfield. In his three years with Alabama he had 35 receptions in 38 games, and earned only two receiving touchdowns. While this demonstrates an ability to catch, it doesn’t translate into him being a natural dual-threat running back. In his first year with the Packers, he caught the ball 35 times for a total of 257 yards. This does not place him among the top dual-threat backs in the league, but if he can develop as a true threat out of the backfield, that could lead to great things for the team.
Last year, while Jamal Charles, Danny Woodhead and Darren Sproles totaled over 600 receiving yards, Lacy was 27th in the league with his 257 total. This isn’t a bad showing on his part, but if the Packers can increase those numbers, it could solve a couple of potential problems in the 2014 campaign. These possible difficulties have to do with wide receiver depth andthe tight end position.
Obviously, Aaron Rodgers will have Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and most likely Jarrett Boykin to throw to, but further wide receiver depth has yet to be determined. Sure, the Packers have some decent holdovers from 2013 and great wide receiver draft picks in Davante Adams and Jared Abbrederis, but promising draft picks never come with guarantees.
A similar situation exists at tight end. Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick both look good, as do Colt Lyerla and Richard Rodgers. However, if none of these players manage to become suitable receivers (which is unlikely) the Packers could have a serious gap in their offense. If the Packers are unable to produce quality receivers further down the depth chart, or cannot produce a respectable starting tight end, increasing Lacy’s potential as a passing threat could maintain the versatility of the offense.
Of course, it is more likely that the Packers will have success in training camp, but even with increased depth at wide receiver and tight end, having Lacy as a legitimate dual-threat running back adds another amazing element to an already impressive offense. The bottom line: improving Eddie Lacy’s receiving potential is one of the most important things the Packers can do right now.
It goes without saying that it is too soon to seriously start shouting “Moss” every time Lacy makes a catch. Realistically though, he is a fast and tough running back who has proven some ability to catch the ball already. Refining his route running and knowledge of Green Bay’s passing plays, that can include running backs, adds another great target for Aaron Rodgers in the upcoming season.