- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Opponents have long feared the Green Bay Packers' lethal passing attack led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but this season the Packers have added a new weapon to their offensive arsenal: the run game.
Green Bay enters Monday night with the fourth-best rushing offense in the NFL, averaging 141.4 yards per game on the ground. At the center of it all is 2013 second-round draft choice Eddie Lacy, who leads all first year players with 446 rushing yards this season, despite missing almost two entire games because of a concussion.
Bears head coach Marc Trestman said on Friday that Lacy gives the Green Bay offense a physical presence in the backfield that he hasn’t seen from the club in quite some time.
Bears defensive lineman Corey Wootton added: “You look at the offensive line and the really look like they’ve been working on their run blocking. In the past, maybe they weren’t as confident running the football, but they look confident now. Lacy knows how to hit the holes. They list Lacy at 230 pounds but it looks like he could weigh a little more. He’s powerful and he’s quick. We really need to rally to the football on Monday night with a runner like that.”
However, Wootton was quick to point out Lacy can also make defenders miss in the open field.
“He’s not one of those guys that is going to break away for a 90-yard run, but he’s a guy that can break a few big runs,” Wootton said. “He can also cut back and run you over. And he’ll do it when you least expect it. That’s what we’ve seen from watching film is his ability to be versatile.”
Green Bay’s No. 2 tailback, James Starks, has carried the ball 41 times for 244 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bears will arrive at Lambeau Field ranked No. 24 in rushing defense (117.3) after getting chewed up by the Washington Redskins before the bye week to the tune of 209 yards on 43 attempts. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has preached all week for his players to “do your job” filling their gaps against the run.
That job gets harder without weakside linebacker Lance Briggs, who is expected to miss the next several weeks due to a small fracture in his left shoulder. While inured quarterback Jay Cutler traditionally struggles versus the Packers, Briggs is usually effective in the rivalry games, compiling 173 tackles, 2.5 sacks, three interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) and one forced fumble in 18 career starts against Green Bay.
“I’ll tell you what -- they’re doing a great job running the football,” Tucker said. “They’re above the league average in yards per carry. It’s really about everyone doing their job in run fits. Playing with great power (I think) and great technique up front. And rallying to the ball and not leaving it up to one guy. Everybody has to get to the ball. Eleven to the ball. Get as many guys there as possible. That’s really the key.”
1624dMichael C. Wright