Starks' production eases Packers concerns

September, 16, 2013
9/16/13
9:10
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers either believe in running back James Starks or think Eddie Lacy's concussion won’t keep him out for very long.

Whatever the case, coach Mike McCarthy on Monday indicated that general manager Ted Thompson likely won’t sign a running back this week after a concussion knocked Lacy out of Sunday’s 38-20 victory over the Washington Redskins.

“We’re putting together a game plan based on the people that are here,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy gave no updates on Lacy’s condition on Monday, making it nearly impossible to determine his status for Sunday’s game at Cincinnati.

Starks is coming off perhaps the finest performance of his injury-filled, four-year NFL career. He rushed for 132 yards on 20 carries, snapping the Packers’ streak of 44 consecutive games without a 100-yard rusher.

[+] EnlargeJames Starks
AP Photo/Mike RoemerJames Starks' 132-yard outburst Sunday was a milestone for the Packers' running game.
The Packers finished the game with just two available backs -- Starks and rookie Johnathan Franklin -- after Lacy was ruled out and fullback John Kuhn dropped out because of a hamstring injury. Franklin has played only on special teams so far.

“Going into last week and this week, the plan was to have Eddie and James kinda play to a certain pattern of things that we were trying to do, and we’ll just continue that way, too,” McCarthy said. “I had a number of things for Johnathan this week we just didn’t get to. There’s things for John Kuhn in there, too. You don’t just go into a game preparing for 70 plays. You go into a football game prepared to go as many different directions as you need to, and that’s the way we’ve always game planned. We’ve got to make sure we’re having things for every player that’s up on Sundays.”

Other items of note from Monday were:

  • Packers special-teams coach Shawn Slocum wants more production in the return game, but indicated it’s not solely the fault of primary kick returner Jeremy Ross, whose long return this season is just 17 yards. “The production is unacceptable,” Slocum said. “We need to have a good week this week, and we’ll need to have some productive returns.”
  • Cornerback Davon House got a game ball for his play on special teams, but also could be in line for additional playing time on defense. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers used House in the second half against the Redskins and at times moved Tramon Williams into the slot position. House had the Packers’ only sack of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Safety Chris Banjo could also see increased playing time. The Packers have been juggling players in the secondary with injuries to safety Morgan Burnett and cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Jarrett Bush. “We could probably do maybe a cleaner job this week of defining roles and giving these guys a chance to really lock into certain areas,” McCarthy said.
  • McCarthy said his two main points with the team this week will be mental performance and fourth-quarter production. He was not happy with the way the Packers let the Washington back in the game after they built a 31-0 lead. “They didn’t convert a third down until the score was 31-0, but we gave up 20 points down the stretch,” McCarthy said. “It’s just unnecessary production when you look at the tape.”

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

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