In this year’s NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers filled a much-needed hole at their running back position by adding Alabama’s Eddie Lacy (second round), UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin (fourth round) and the undrafted free agent from Kansas State, Angelo Pease. It’s no secret the team doesn’t have a huge running game as it had an average of 26 rushing attempts over its last 10 games in 2012 and for the last three seasons, 32 rushing touchdowns combined with nine coming from Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
With these rookies, it’s easy to assume help is on the way.
First, Lacy and Franklin will compete against last year’s remaining Packers running backs including Alex Green (135 carries for 464 yards), DuJuan Harris (34 attempts, 157 yards and two touchdowns) and James Starks (71 attempt for 225 yards and one touchdown).
As compared to its division foes, this is pretty weak when looking at the Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (2,097 yards) and the Chicago Bears Matt Forte (1,094 yards).
Lacy and Franklin are two different players, which is appealing, and their numbers alone give Packers Nation hope that help in on the way.
Lacy’s 2012 season included 204 carries for 1,322 yards (6.5 yards per attempt) with 17 touchdowns while Franklin had 282 attempts for 1,734 yards (6.1 yards per attempt) and 13 touchdowns.
Expectations are high and Packers coach Mike McCarthy recently said of them after their participation in OTAs via Twincities.com, “Two different types of backs. Obviously Lacy is a bigger back. Frankly, I thought Franklin handled the ball on the punt and the kickoff, too. I was excited about that, too, so he seems very natural. But once again, they’re young players, they’re drafted players. We look for them to definitely help us and contribute.”
The rookies know opportunities exist for them this season and for Packers fans and team members, they wonder if a one-two running back combination is back. This was last seen in the Mike Holmgren days with Edgar Bennett and Dorsey Levens in the 1990s.
With Rodgers at the helm with his passing game, this will not change but a running game will improve this team. For now, the two rookies are building chemistry and a friendship.
Lacy said of this season via USA Today, “We should have a pretty good running game this season. The defense won’t be able to stack the box up because we have a great quarterback and we have great weapons on the outside. It leaves a lot of room for the running back to work in the middle.”
But the end of the day, there is still a competition going on between them and Franklin recently noted, “Competition is going to bring out the best in you. We’re definitely going to find out what kind of men we are and what kind of athletes we are, so I’m excited to compete with Eddie and learn from Eddie and get better with him as well.”
And because things happen in threes, there’s still Pease in contention. McCarthy had positive remarks about the player after some workouts. He believes something is there with the player who brings 2012 stats of 60 attempts for 333 yards.
For the Packers, the future looks bright for their running game but will it come from the addition of a single player or a duo? Or better yet, a threesome.