Category Archives: Running Backs

11

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: RB Marion Grice

Marion Grice

RB Marion Grice

Packers prospect profile:  RB Marion Grice

Player Information:

Marion Grice  RB, Arizona State,  6-0, 208 pounds  Hometown: Houston, TX

STATS

Personal Pro Day:

40 time: 4.61 (unofficial)

Vertical jump: 32″

225 lb. bench: 14 reps

Broad jump: 8′ 01″

News and Notes:

Did not participate in NFL Combine or ASU’s Pro Day workouts due to a leg injury suffered late last season. . .Second team All Pac-12 in 2013. . . scored 20 touchdowns in 2013, one of only fifteen backs in the Pac-10/12 to accomplish that feat in the last 36 seasons. . . 2013 Hornung award finalist (nation’s most versatile player). . .scored at least one touchdown in 10 straight games in 2013. . .507 kick return yards in 2013

What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com:  Shows good plant-and-go burst with the patience and instant acceleration to let defenders over-pursue before surging for positive yardage. Talented ballcarrier, willing blocker and reliable pass catcher out of the backfield. Isn’t the most impressive-looking prospect with a lean body type and upright running style. Needs to show more finishing toughness and lacks many distinguishable traits.
  • NFL.com:  Good balance and body control. Has loose ankles and very good lateral agility. Explosive one-cut ability. Displays vision and elusiveness in the open field. Sees the cutback and weaves in and out of traffic. Has some wiggle to shake tacklers in space. Good receiver — bursts into routes, adjusts to passes and has soft hands. Fumbled only once the last two seasons. Blue-collar work ethic. Solid character. Has a lean, narrow frame. Needs to bulk up and get stronger. Not equipped to pound between the tackles — gets tall inside and doesn’t push the pile (soft on contact). Weak tackle-breaker who cannot be counted on for yards after contact. Can become a more disciplined route runner. Questionable awareness in pass protection. Statistical production belies inconsistency.

Video:

 

Video Analysis:.

  • Has quickness and can elude tacklers despite a lack of burning speed
  • Here’s the versatility: runner and pass catcher.  Good hands and ability to find an open spot in passing game
  • Very poor in pass protection and could be a liability in that area
  • Has a decent burst through the hole but doesn’t create much for himself.  Not always very decisive
3

April

Packers Re-Sign Kuhn

John Kuhn

The Packers return John Kuhn on a one-year deal

Fullback and Green Bay Packers cult hero John Kuhn is returning to the team in 2014.  Kuhn has agreed to a one-year deal worth just over $1 million with incentives included.

Kuhn has been with the Packers since 2007 and has become one of the stable veterans on a perpetually young roster.  While Kuhn reportedly had some conversations with other teams, Green Bay seems to be the best fit for him over anywhere else.

Similar to quarterback Matt Flynn, Kuhn flourishes in the Packers offense where he is needed and seems to max out his value potential.

Case in point is last season’s week 17 season finale against the Chicago Bears, when it was Kuhn’s block on defensive end Julius Peppers that allowed Aaron Rodgers to escape the pocket and find receiver Randall Cobb downfield for the go-ahead and game-winning score.  That win helped the Packers secure their third straight NFC North division title.  Now that Peppers is with the Packers, the two can likely share a laugh or two over that monumental play.

The fullback position has changed quite a bit in the NFL overall.  Gone are the days of the I-formation and the need for a bruising fullback to pave the way for the tail back.  With running backs becoming bigger and more versatile and athletic, the traditional fullback is a dying breed.  Green Bay’s offense is no exception.  With the addition of Eddie Lacy in last year’s draft, Kuhn had just 10 rushing attempts in 2013.  In 2010, Kuhn had his career high in carries with 84, mostly due to injuries to other running backs at the time.

Still, keeping Kuhn is valuable for depth purposes and also insurance that there is a wily veteran that can come in on passing downs and help keep Rodgers on his feet.  Kuhn is said to be a great presence in the team’s locker room and will surely assist in bringing the young running backs along as they mature in their early careers.

Of the current Packers backs other than Kuhn, James Starks is the most senior member with four seasons under his belt.  DuJuan Harris, Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin and Michael Hill all have just one season to their credit.  Harris was with the team last year but did not play after being placed on season-ending injured reserve during training camp.

18

March

Packers Re-Sign RB Starks to Two-Year Deal

James Starks

Starks returns to Green Bay on a two-year deal

The Green Bay Packers have re-signed running back James Starks to a two-year contract.  The news broke last night via ESPN’s Adam Schefter (who else?) and his famous Twitter account.

Starks had just finished a visit with the Pittsburgh Steelers when he came to terms with the Packers.

Starks was a sixth-round draft pick for Green Bay in 2010.  He was placed on the physically unable to perform list after suffering an injury during training camp.  He made his debut in November of that year and was an instrumental piece to the Packers’ Super Bowl run that season.

Starks has had more than his fair share of injuries throughout his brief career, but when healthy, has proven to be effective in a tandem-type role.

The Packers currently have six running backs under contract:  Starks, Eddie Lacy, DuJuan Harris, Johnathan Franklin, Michael Hill and Orwin Smith.  Fullback John Kuhn may also return.  Hill and Smith would seem to be long shots to make the team’s roster this season, barring an injury.

Starks was thought to be on his way out of Green Bay heading into last year’s offseason when he had a strong training camp and pre season and found himself back in green and gold.  He likely faces a similar challenge this offseason, although the multiple year deal would indicate that the Packers probably have Starks in their plans for the 2014 season.

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

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25

February

The Packers should choose a different flavor of tight end

At the moment there are 3 “flavors” of tight ends; everyone’s favorite at the moment is chocolate and that would be the “oversized wide receiver” tight ends like Jimmy Graham or Jordan Cameron, who are players who can take the top off of a defensive secondary while posing a size match up for cornerbacks and safeties while causing speed problems for linebackers.  These types of players are what the NFL craves right now and with the Seattle Seahawks winning the Super Bowl with bigger more physical corners, the most logical response would be for NFL offenses to counter with big and fast tight ends who can beat bigger corners at their own game.  Strawberry would be the “move” tight end, much like Aaron Hernandez or Jordan Reed, who while aren’t the biggest or fastest have the most utility of the group, being able to operate decently as a inline tight end, out in the slot or even as a fullback in some situations (the Packers in particular love this kind of tight end).  Finally, there is vanilla, the old and boring standby of inline or “complete” tight end such as Jason Witten or Todd Heap who were capable inline blockers but could also operate as a safety value for a quarterback in the short passing game.  Each flavor has its own advantages and disadvantages and that’s fluctuated over time as offenses and defenses have evolved in the NFL.

When looking at the Packers under the Mike McCarthy/Ted Thompson regime, the flavors that appeal most have definitely been chocolate (Jermichael Finley, Brandon Bostick) and strawberry (Tom Crabtree, Spencer Havner, Ryan Taylor, DJ Williams) with almost no emphasis being placed on blocking.  And it’s easy to see why, with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers at the helm, plays could be extended, wide receivers got the majority of the attention on offense and running backs, outside of a couple years of Ahman Green in his prime, took a back seat to the offensive passing game.  Add to that the aerial explosion that occurred starting around that time and it’s easy to see why the Packers, along with pretty much every other NFL team, starting looking at tight ends more as receivers than blockers.  However, we might just start to see Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson pick a different favorite flavor this coming draft.

24

February

Eddie Lacy 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Eddie Lacy

Eddie Lacy

1) Introduction:  Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy was by far the biggest surprise for the team in 2013.  After being projected by many to be drafted in the first round, Lacy fell to the Packers late in round two.  He outgained the three running backs taken ahead of him (Giovanni Bernard, Le’Veon Bell and Montee Ball)  in both yards and touchdowns and is a candidate for the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year award.  Lacy was voted Pro Football Writers Association Rookie of the Year.  It can be argued that Lacy was the Packers most valuable player in 2013, as he helped re-establish the run game in the team’s offense and was most key in team’s few wins without quarterback Aaron Rodgers this season.

2) Profile:

Eddie Darwin Lacy, Jr.

  • Age: 23
  • Born: 6/2/1990 in Gretna, LA
  • Height: 5’11″
  • Weight: 230
  • College: Alabama
  • Rookie Year: 2013
  • NFL Experience: 1 year

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Lacy came into this season expected to be part of a running back committee anchored by DuJuan Harris.  When Harris went down to a season-ending injury early in training camp, Lacy emerged as the starter, edging out James Starks.  The Packers had hoped to bring Lacy along more slowly and as a complimentary back.  But he was thrust into action and often carried 25+ times per game.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Lacy’s rookie season was filled with many highlights that delighted the team and fans.  He provided something the team had not had since the days of Ahman Green:  a reliable running back capable of picking up a tough one yard or breaking one for 50.  Lacy’s low light of the season was his only fumble in week one against the San Francisco 49ers along with having to miss two straight games due to a concussion.  Lacy’s single biggest highlight was his performance against the Dallas Cowboys where his 60-yard run to start the second half sparked a comeback that was complete with his plunge into the end zone for the go-ahead score.  His late and savvy touchdown run against the Bears in Chicago inched the Packers closer to their dramatic comeback win in week 17.  Lacy also broke a four-year drought of Packers running backs getting 100 rushing yards during the regular season.  He surpassed the century mark three times and went over 90 on two other occasions.  Lacy’s hard work was rewarded when he was named to the Pro Bowl as a substitute for Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

24

February

James Starks Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

Packers RB James Starks

Packers RB James Starks

1) Introduction:  James Starks was, if anything, an afterthought prior to the Packers’ 2013 season. After Ted Thompson spent a pair of draft picks on Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, the thought was that the rookies, along with a returning DuJuan Harris and/or Alex Green would make up the Packers’ backfield rotation. But that was not the case, as Harris didn’t play a single snap this season, and Green was cut before the season began. Starks was back. And he was pretty good, too.

2) Profile:

James Darell Starks

  • Age: 27
  • Born: 2/25/1986 in Niagara Falls, NY
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 218
  • College: Buffalo
  • Rookie Year: 2010
  • NFL Experience: 4 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Slim to none. Two roster spots were claimed by rookies Lacy and Franklin, while DuJuan Harris was expected to play a major role after coming on strong late in the 2012-13 season as the feature back. Starks was very much on the roster bubble headed into training camp.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: The highlight of Starks’ season, individually, was undoubtedly week two against the Washington Redskins. After Lacy suffered a concussion on the game’s first possession, Starks was thrust into the starting role and responded with a 132-yard day on the ground. Starks’ performance against the Chicago Bears in week 17 (88 rushing yards) is worth an honorable mention. As far as low-lights, it’s hard to really pinpoint anything in particular. He exceeded expectations and tied a career high, appearing in 13 games.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success:  Lacy’s physical running style leaves him susceptible to hits like the one he suffered against the Redskins, so having a capable backup is essential for the Packers. Starks stepped up to the plate whenever he was called upon, and the offense really didn’t miss a beat. His 5.5-yards-per-carry average was easily the best on the team.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs:  Starks was good, not spectacular in the Packers’ playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. He totaled 42 yards on six touches in relief of Lacy.

Season Report Card:

(A) Level of expectations met during the season

(C+) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(C+) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  B

22

February

Johnathan Franklin Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

Packers RB Johnathan Franklin

Packers RB Johnathan Franklin

1) Introduction:  Coming into the season, Franklin was expected to handle some return duties and play second fiddle to starter Eddie Lacy. But after an unspectacular training camp, Franklin was buried on the depth chart behind Lacy, James Starks and an injured DuJuan Harris. Franklin’s opportunity would come, but overall, it was a quiet rookie season.

2) Profile:

Johnathan A. Franklin

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 10/23/1989 in Los Angeles, CA
  • Height: 5’10″
  • Weight: 205
  • College: UCLA
  • Rookie Year: 2013
  • NFL Experience: 1 year

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Although he was a fourth-round pick, Franklin was expected by some (including himself) to be selected in the second or third round. So from that standpoint, much of Packer Nation was excited about the eccentric rookie runner. However, training camp proved to be a quick drizzle on Franklin’s rookie parade.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: The highlight and low-light of Franklin’s season was Sep. 22 in Cincinnati. Filling in for an injured Lacy and a hobbled Starks — who left the game earlier — Franklin burst onto the scene with 126 total yards and his first career touchdown. “That’s the Franklin we thought we were getting,” Packers fans said. Then, on a crucial fourth down in crunch time, Franklin fumbled, which was recovered by the Bengals and returned for a touchdown. It was the best of times, then it was the worst of times.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success:  Realistically, Franklin had very little impact on the Packers’ season. He was on multiple special teams units and had the big day against the Bengals, but that’s it.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs:  Franklin finished the 2013-14 season on injured reserve and was inactive for the Packers’ wild card playoff game against the 49ers.

Season Report Card:

(C-) Level of expectations met during the season

(D-) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(N/A) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: D+

Note: It was a rough year for Franklin, but I still think he has something. After all, I had him ranked ahead of Lacy (as the No. 2 back behind Gio Bernard) prior to last year’s draft. And yes, I was dead wrong on that.