Packers Annual Checkup: Eddie Lacy
MAR 07, 2014 6:18p ET
FOX Sports Wisconsin's Paul Imig gives an in-depth statistical analysis and film study of every Packers player in his annual offseason checkup. Check every weekday through mid-April for his latest report.
Eddie Lacy, running back
Season stats: 16 games (726 offensive snaps; 64.6 percent of total offensive snaps), 305 rushing attempts, 1,259 yards, 11 touchdowns, one fumble (one lost), forced 62 missed tackles; 37 receptions, 264 yards, three dropped passes
ProFootballFocus.com season rating: 18.9 (ranked No. 3 out of 23 Packers offensive players; ranked No. 5 among NFL running backs)
Best game: Week 12 tie vs. Minnesota (played 72 of 98 offensive snaps); 25 rushing attempts for 110 yards, one touchdown, 10 forced missed tackles; six receptions for 48 yards; 4.7 PFF rating
Worst game: Week 13 loss at Detroit (played 25 of 43 offensive snaps); 10 carries for 16 yards; two receptions for 23 yards, one dropped pass; minus-1.3 PFF rating
Expectations at the start of the season: Medium
Expectations were ... Exceeded
Looking live: The Packers were clearly interested in Eddie Lacy leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft, but if they loved him, general manager Ted Thompson wouldn't have traded away the 55th overall pick and moved back six spots. Concerns over Lacy's injury history and conditioning led to Lacy falling out of the first round and nearly dropping out of the second round, but Green Bay rolled the dice a bit (that was the thinking at the time) and grabbed him at No. 61. Lacy wasn't in training camp more than a few days before an unflattering picture began circulating online, sparking debate about whether he was out of shape. "I've always been big; I'm a power back," Lacy said then. Misleading photos aside, Lacy was far from being the Packers' starting running back. That role, according to coach Mike McCarthy, belonged to DuJuan Harris. But even with Harris unavailable to begin training camp, Lacy was playing behind Alex Green and James Starks. By the end of the first week of camp, though, Lacy's spin move was in full effect, and a dominating practice gave him reps with the No. 1 offense to conclude the Day 5 no-huddle drills. Lacy gave fans a taste of what was to come during the Family Night Scrimmage, as he was recognized in the "Movin' On Up" category of FOX Sports Wisconsin's Training Camp Report series. Lacy missed three practices and a preseason game after suffering a hamstring injury in early August, but that was not a recurring issue for him. Lacy wasn't actually the starter until Harris was placed on injured reserve on Aug. 27.
Upon further review: Lacy's rookie season was a game-changer for McCarthy's offense, both in what Green Bay was able to do in 2013 and in what can be done now for years to come. But it didn't get off to a particularly great start, with the San Francisco 49ers containing Lacy on all but one drive in Week 1. The following week was even worse for Lacy, who suffered a concussion on his first official carry at Lambeau Field after absorbing an illegal, helmet-first hit from Washington safety Brandon Meriweather. That forced Lacy to miss the following week's game, too. Then came the Packers' bye week, by which point Lacy had just 15 carries for 51 yards. However, in the following five weeks after coming back from the early break Lacy was phenomenal, averaging 109 yards per game in that span. If there was concern after Week 1 about potential fumbling issues, those were erased after Lacy went the rest of the season without losing the ball again. He also broke tackles at a very high rate, trailing only Seattle's Marshawn Lynch in that category. With the exception of being spelled on offense for a full series on occasion, Lacy proved to be an every-down running back, catching passes out of the backfield and picking up the blitz nicely. In 124 snaps as a pass-blocker, Lacy allowed just three quarterback hurries and did not give up a sack. Lacy's year was capped off by being named the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Overall 2013 grade: A
Status for 2014: One-hundred percent chance of being on Green Bay's active roster to begin the 2014 regular season. The days of Harris as the starter are long gone, as Lacy is the present and the future of the Packers' running back group. But that doesn't mean Green Bay doesn't have use for Harris and Franklin, both of whom will be expected to contribute in various roles. The big question with Lacy is, how much longer can he run with this style and not wear down? Will his body still be intact by the time he gets to negotiate his next NFL contract? That's where Harris and Franklin will be vital, as Lacy can't get the ball 20 times per game over the next three seasons and still perform at such a high level. His running style is so physical that he needs dependable backups playing behind him -- or, in certain situations, playing in tandem with him. For now, though, the Packers found one of the biggest impact rookies in recent years who still has a lot of room to get better.
Next: Starting right guard T.J. Lang
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