Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Alex Green (20) rushes with the football during training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field. Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
By Travis Duncan
"Run more?" Aaron Rodgers said. "I don't see it happening drastically at all.
No one wants the Packers to run more, well most everyone. Most enjoy watching the offensive Juggernaut march down the field with prolific proficiency.
However, there are some concerns that the running game could potentially become the Achilles heel of this team. And although the Packers don't plan on turning off the switch, and collectively putting us to sleep with a grind it out run game, they would like to get larger chunks on each handoff.
The Packers statistically have room for improvement.
"It's not our identity," Rodgers added, (via ESPN). "But running more effectively and picking the five or six or seven runs that we really like and are our best opportunity for those 12-yard gains? That's what we're going to try to do."
Last season the Packers 97.4 yards per game ranked 27th in the NFL. The Packers ran the ball 395 times, ranked 26th, and the 3.9 yards per carry ranked 26th as well.
In the Packers loss to the Super Bowl winning New York Giants in the divisional round, Packers running backs ran the ball 16 times for 81 yards.
Ryan Grant was released this summer, and James Starks is now the feature back. There is some confidence in Starks, not a ton. There are more durability questions about Starks than there is confidence.
Which brings us to Alex Green.
A lot has been written about the progress of Alex Green, who appears almost fully recovered from a torn ACL he suffered last October, with knee surgery which took place in November.
A lot has been said about how quick and athletic and talented Green is.
As of now, Green is on a snap count, and that could possibly progress into the season, but some feel Green could ultimately become the feature back or at the very least split carries with Starks.
“Alex can generate speed and can stop and cut just as fast as any back that we’ve got,” Defensive end Mike Neal told the Green Bay Press Gazette.
Green says that he feels as good as can be expected eight months removed from the surgery
and that he expects that after 10 to 11 months, he'll actually be at 100-percent.
Green will be cast into the proverbial third-down role it would appear, at least to begin the season.
Starks and probably a lot of others at Packers HQ know that Green has a shot to potentially split the workload as Starks did a year ago with Grant.
Defensive back Davon House said that Green was the most determined back in the mix for carries.
Starks hasn't exactly gotten rave reviews for his play thus far in training camp
Last week it was written in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Green Bay Packers RB James Starks hasn't shown the team much to be excited about in training camp even though he's taken around three times as many snaps as RB Alex Green (knee). Green has been more dynamic than Starks, but the team is limiting Green because of reconstructive knee surgery he had last year. Starks isn't making strides as a ball carrier or pass blocker."
Thursday night a lot of eyes will be on Starks and Green and comparisons will be made.
Of course don't forget about Brandon Saine (was once dubbed Ohio's fastest man alive as a high school track star, video to prove it). Saine could see some action while Green continues to recover. Saine came off the practice squad a year ago when Green went down.
As of now, Saine isn't entirely assured of a lot of work at running back, "I think the biggest thing for me right now is getting special teams down and trying to stick there," he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"I think the running back position will come. I've played that position for a long time now. We have good coaches."
Jennings, Newhouse and 9 others out Thursday Night
Veteran WR Greg Jennings will miss Thursday's exhibition with a concussion, as will Marshall Newhouse. In total 11 players have been ruled out. They are:
Sam Shields (elbow), running back Brandon Saine (hamstring), tight end Ryan Taylor (concussion), wide receiver Tori Gurley (groin), running back Du'ane Bennett (knee), offensive lineman Ray Dominguez (ankle), fullback Jon Hoese (hamstring), tight end Eric Lair (knee) and offensive lineman Mike McCabe (hip).
Herb Taylor will fill in for Newhouse at left tackle. Keep an eye on that.
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