Monday, September 16, 2013

James Starks Runs Wild

Courtesy of the Green Bay Press Gazette
James Starks, who at one point was fifth in the pecking order at running back during the preseason, pounced on his chance and galloped for a career-high 132 yards in the Packers' 38-20 win over Washington. He made the most of his 20 carries, hitting the holes in the offensive line hard and showing a good burst around the ends.

"I know this is what I’m capable of doing," Starks told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "I just have to keep rolling. It’s one game. I have to continue to get better, do things right each and every play and try to be a better player."

That’s the thing. It is just one game. Whereas very few will be surprised if Rodgers approaches 500 yards passing again, it will be surprising if Starks continues to produce at this level.

Lacy will have to pass a series of NFL-mandated concussion tests to return to the practice field this week, but it might behoove the Packers to take caution with their rookie running back, given that Green Bay has a bye week following this upcoming week’s contest with Cincinnati.

That should give Starks another opportunity to prove his value to the coaching staff, but that will come against the Bengals’ third-best weighted defense in the league from 2012, according to Football Outsiders, a group that now includes former Steelers stud linebacker James Harrison.

The Packers are definitely a pass-first team, but there has been a greater focus on establishing the run game in order to help keep Rodgers healthy and in the case on Sunday, wear down the clock en route to a victory. Starks wore down a bit as the game wore on, picking up two yards or fewer on six of his last seven carries.

Is Starks’ performance an indicator of long term success? No. But is it indicative of the progress the offense is making? Yes. Don’t look for a repeat performance against Cincinnati, and with Lacy likely returning to the fold after the bye, look for the Packers to continue to strive for balance for the remaining 13 games.

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