Rookie Lacy leads backfield charge for Packers

Eddie Lacy lines up in the backfield, scans the defense and

notices an awful lot of players ganging up near the line of


Lacy knows what’s coming. Defenses are trying to stop the run.

Tough as it might be, he wants to make them pay.

Despite the absence of injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Green

Bay has made a late charge in the NFC North race thanks in part to

the 6-foot, 250-pound bowling ball of a running back.

”I know I’m going to get hit when you line up and see eight

guys in front,” Lacy said Wednesday. ”They can hit you at the

line of scrimmage or you can get some positive yards so you can

have some kind of momentum going … the next time you run the


The rookie was drafted in the second round from Alabama to help

complement Rodgers and the passing game. But it’s been six weeks

since they’ve been in the same backfield, and Rodgers hasn’t been

medically cleared to return from his left collarbone injury to play

Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rodgers appears to be inching closer to a return. He hasn’t

played since getting hurt on the first series of a 27-20 loss to

Chicago on Nov. 4.

”Threw the ball extremely well. Looked sharp. He’s getting

better,” coach Mike McCarthy said.

For now, he’s still officially ”limited” in practice, taking

some snaps with the first team while backup Matt Flynn prepares to

start a game that Green Bay (7-6-1) needs desperately. A victory

over the Steelers ensures an all-or-nothing showdown for the

division the following week with the Bears.

Flynn has helped rally the Packers to two straight

come-from-behind wins, capped by the frantic 37-36 win last week in

Dallas to rally from a 23-point halftime deficit – the biggest

comeback in franchise history. Flynn threw for 299 yards and four


But Flynn knows the deal too. He’ll relinquish the job when

Rodgers is ready. The Packers would love to reunite Lacy and

Rodgers in the same backfield, and perhaps get more breathing room

for the running game.

Nursing a sprained right ankle, Lacy ran for 141 yards on 21

carries and the go-ahead touchdown from a yard out last week

against Dallas. Imagine what Lacy might be able when Rodgers


Lacy’s day earned him NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.

With 1,028 yards rushing and eight touchdowns, Lacy is the only

rookie in franchise history to run for a least 1,000 yards and five


Lacy sat out practice Wednesday as a precaution. He’s also

walking around in a soft walking boot on the ankle, but McCarthy

expects the rookie to play Sunday.

”You have to run the football; we’ve committed to it more this

year,” McCarthy said. ”Been pleased so far with the way it’s gone

… We can get better.”

For his part, Lacy is soaking up knowledge every week. For

instance, he hasn’t fumbled since Week 1 in San Francisco, when he

made a cut and stumbled forward but didn’t have a good hold on the


”Now, my pads are always square and I have good body leverage

and I’m able to push and cover the ball with my hands,” Lacy


He’s getting used to the timing with his blockers. Besides the

addition of Lacy, the Packers also re-jiggered its offensive line

this year with Josh Sitton going to left guard from the right side

to switch places with T.J. Lang. Rookie David Bakhtiari starts at

left tackle.

Lacy’s running style might be emblematic of the team’s bullish

approach to stay in the playoff chase. Lang noted a recent meeting

when a coach singled out Lacy while players watched film.

”I mean he’s bouncing off four or five guys, and (coach) just

said `Hey, we’ve all got to play like Eddie,”’ Lang said. ”Just

the tenacity and the motor that he has … that’s something that

all of us can learn from and add to our game.”

Note: WR Randall Cobb returned to practice on a limited basis

for the first time after missing the past nine weeks with a leg

injury. Cobb hasn’t been cleared to play in a game, but he said he

thinks that he’s healed and just needs to get back into football


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