20

December

Packers News: James Starks hopes to return for playoffs

Packers RB James Starks

Packers RB James Starks

When James Starks was hit in the knee by Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson late in the Packers’ Dec. 2 win at Lambeau Field, the thought was that his season would be over.

After all, the third-year running back has suffered multiple injuries dating back to his collegiate days at Buffalo. He exploded onto the scene late in the 2010 season and became the Packers’ lead back during their run to Super Bowl XLV.

His injury against the Vikings was thought to be a huge blow to a running game that had been struggling throughout the majority of the season.

But now, according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, it appears the Packers are aiming to bring Starks back for the playoffs.

“It’s a lot better,” Starks said. “Just how I was bent, when you look at it, it looked a lot worse. So I just thank God for being able to possibly come back and do well. So no real, serious bad injuries.”

With Starks out of the lineup the past couple weeks, the Packers have employed a three-man rotation at running back with Alex Green, DuJuan Harris and Ryan Grant. In two games without Starks, Green has carried the ball a team-high 26 times, Harris 12 and Grant nine.

Starks had taken over as the team’s primary ball carrier Nov. 11 against the Arizona Cardinals.

The running game has been steadily improving over the course of the season. The return of Starks to the backfield rotation would figure to boost the offense even more. Head coach Mike McCarthy said there was always hope Starks would return.

“Starks’ situation is to hopefully get him back for the playoffs. That was a decision that was made a few weeks ago.”

By no means is it a guarantee that Starks will return for the postseason, but today’s news is certainly a good sign for the Packers.

The Packers could be short-handed in the backfield on Sunday, as Green may be forced to sit out after suffering a concussion against the Bears. If Green is out, the Packers will rely on Harris, Grant and fullback John Kuhn to shoulder the load in the ground game.

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Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

21

November

McCarthy: Packers RB James Starks Could Play Thursday

Packers RB James Starks may still be play Thursday in Detroit.

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that running back James Starks will likely practice Tuesday and could even play on Thursday in Detroit if all goes well during the week.

Starks was hurt during the fourth quarter of the Packers’ 35-26 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. He was bent back in the middle of a pile and needed assistance getting off the field. After the game, McCarthy called the injury a “knee sprain,” which hasn’t exactly been the kindest of injury assessments recently.

On Monday, the somber mood seemed to change. McCarthy called Starks “sore” but seemed optimistic that his second-year running back would test out the knee Tuesday at practice. If Starks passes the tests during the week, McCarthy said he’s “hopeful” that Starks would play against the Lions on Thanksgiving.

Other highlights from McCarthy’s Monday press conference:

  • Receiver Greg Jennings has a knee bruise but should practice on Tuesday. All indications pointed to him being ready for Thursday.
  • McCarthy didn’t seem worried about the schedule, and he also pointed out that Detroit is now on the exact same schedule. He feels good about where the Packers are at health-wise, too.
  • Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel asked a good question about the Lions’ defensive line and their ability to win upfront against the Packers late last season. McCarthy said that the Lions’ play in the trenches was one of the major factors in their win in December of 2010. He also said that the Packers have focused mostly on tape from this season because the Lions have different players upfront, including rookie defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
  • McCarthy said that mental preparation was the most important part of this week. The Packers will spend limited time on the practice field to ensure the physical aspect of the game is intact. McCarthy said he won’t lose this game on Tuesday and Wednesday with grueling practices.
  • McCarthy wasn’t worried about the punt protection issues that Tampa Bay may have exposed on Sunday. He said the special teams had an up and down day but that everything was correctable.
  • He seemed very impressed with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. He noted that the most important stat for a young quarterback is games played, and the experience is clearly starting to pay off. Stafford is having “a heck of a year.”