Friday, December 9, 2011
BBAO: The James Starks dilemma
By Kevin Seifert
We're Black and Blue All Over:
The Green Bay Packers will play at least four, and potentially six, consecutive games outdoors on grass fields in cold-weather locales. That means it's time to get their running game in order. But just as they hit that stretch, the Packers are trying to figure out the best way to handle a series of injuries to lead runner James Starks.
As Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette points out, Starks has been forced out of three consecutive games because of knee and ankle injuries. He hasn't practiced all week and it might make some sense to hold him out of Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders to allow for additional healing time.
The Packers have a strong fallback in veteran Ryan Grant, and rookie Brandon Saine has been seeing repetitions in recent weeks. But we all know how much of an impact Starks made on the Packers' run to the Super Bowl last season. For what it's worth, Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said that it might help to hold out Starks "from a freshness standpoint" but not a "football development standpoint" down the stretch.
The Packers have three regular-season games remaining at Lambeau Field and could have two playoff games if they win home-field advantage in the playoffs. Their only road game is in Week 15 at the Kansas City Chiefs.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- The Packers have 30 rushing plays this season that have lost yardage, notes the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Packers punter Tim Masthay has become a big-time weapon, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
- The Detroit Lions are expecting the best shot Sunday from the Minnesota Vikings, writes Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com.
- The New Orleans Saints went to extreme measures to defend Lions receiver Calvin Johnson last Sunday, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
- John Niyo of the Detroit News: "The Calvin Rules are in full effect again, and it's up to [offensive coordinator Scott] Linehan and Matthew Stafford and Johnson's pass-catching teammates to take full advantage if the Lions are going to make the playoffs."
- Vikings receiver Percy Harvin suffered from migraine-like symptoms late last week, according to Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- Mark Craig of the Star Tribune examines the "catch radius" of Vikings rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph.
- Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder needs to learn when to run and when not to, writes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
- Chicago Bears tailback Matt Forte is using a hyperbaric chamber to help his injured knee recover, notes Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune.
- The Bears don't have anything special planned for Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, according to Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- It appears that the Bears will start Craig Steltz in place of injured safety Major Wright (shoulder) this week, notes Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.