Starter Pack: The Lacy-Starks power punch

October, 28, 2013
10/28/13
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A roundup of what’s happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Packers coach Mike McCarthy first talked in the offseason about having a one-two punch at running back, he envisioned one of those parts being speed back DuJuan Harris.

The diminutive Harris would provide a change of pace.

But those plans were quickly junked after Harris sustained a season-ending knee injury in the preseason.

The new one-two punch might be power and power.

In the Packers’ 44-31 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night, running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks combined for 151 yards rushing.

“I think we’re powerful,” said Starks, who carried seven times for 57 yards and one touchdown. “At any given time, we just keep driving. We complement each other well.”

Lacy carried a career-high 29 times for 94 yards. His 3.2-yard average was nothing special, but, like Starks, he’s able to get tough yards. Both can be classified as big, power runners. Lacy is 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds, while Starks is 6-2, 218.

Starks played for the first time since he sustained a knee injury in Week 3 at Cincinnati. He revealed on Sunday that he had a partially torn MCL.

“He’s a great slasher in every sense of the word,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of Starks. “He made some great cuts [and had] a big touchdown run for us. Eddie was just pounding it. He’s tough to bring down. He’s like a bowling ball in there. I’m really proud of the job those guys did, but the offensive line again deserves a lot of credit.”

The Packers are averaging more than a full yard per carry more this season, at 4.8 yards per carry, compared with 3.9 last season.

Elsewhere:
  • Perhaps the biggest news to come out of Sunday night -- other than the game itself -- was the fact that Clay Matthews told ESPN.com that he will have the pins removed from his surgically repaired broken right thumb on Nov. 4 and hopes to return as early as the Nov. 10 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
  • As for the game itself, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and receiver Jordy Nelson got the better of their former teammate, Greg Jennings, who signed with the Vikings in the offseason. Nelson, playing Jennings’ old slot position, caught two touchdowns, while Rodgers was very sharp. In the Locker Room Buzz, we had notes on the running game, Micah Hyde’s 93-yard punt return for a touchdown, David Bakhtiari’s near perfect performance against Jared Allen and even a Brett Favre reference.
  • At ESPNWisconsin.com, Jason Wilde wrote that “Rodgers made sure through his preparation, his decision-making, his playmaking and, yes, his leadership, that the Packers (5-2) ran their winning streak to four games and made their farewell to the Metrodome a fond one.”
  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Pete Dougherty wrote that the Packers displayed “their new offensive identity playing without Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley … [and] used a punishing running game and ultra-sharp performance from quarterback Aaron Rodgers.” Weston Hodkiewicz’s notebook led with Hyde’s punt return.
  • In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Bob McGinn joined the list of those who heaped praise on Rodgers and Tom Silverstein broke down the success in the running game.
One final note: After a late night of writing and a quick nap, I'll be making my way back to Green Bay on Monday morning, which means our weekly Upon Further Review feature will be a few hours later than usual because of the night game. So hang in there for a few hours, and I'll be back with you soon.

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

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