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Friday, February 21, 2014
More in store for Lacy, other RBs

By Rob Demovsky

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Green Bay Packers think Eddie Lacy can do even more in his second season.

From a numbers standpoint, they would probably take a repeat of his production from his offensive rookie of the year season in 2013. The 1,178 yards, 11 rushing touchdowns and 35 receptions likely would be sufficient.

Lacy
But when it comes to playing-time distribution, his role -- and that of the other running backs -- could be altered.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Friday that he wants Lacy to become comfortable playing on all three downs, which means increasing his third-down and pass protection responsibilities.

“Eddie Lacy obviously had a heck of a year,” McCarthy said at the NFL scouting combine. “He was a primary player for us, [a] play-maker. Eddie’s focus is on being a three-down player. He has to play all three downs throughout the whole game.”

What that means for fullback John Kuhn, who is scheduled to become a free agent next month, is unclear. Kuhn often was used as the third-down back because of his proficiency as a pass protector.

By keeping the same running back on the field for an extended period of time, it could help the Packers offense operate more efficiently in the no-huddle.

“You want to be able to get players to get into the flow of the game when your offensive philosophy is to get as many plays as possible,” McCarthy said. “Limiting substitutions is obviously an asset to accomplishing that.”

That doesn’t mean the Packers won’t substitute. McCarthy has plans to use DuJuan Harris, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury, and Johnathan Franklin in a similar role. He also has not ruled out bringing back James Starks, who is schedule to be a free agent.

“I think we can get an even better rotation than we had this year with our running back group,” McCarthy said. “I actually thought our running back group rotation-wise has been as good as it’s been in my time in Green Bay. But with Eddie, Johnathan and James Starks -- hopefully we can sign James back -- if all these guys can play three downs it gives your offense the chance to play faster, keeps guys fresher.”