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.

19

December

This season, Eddie Lacy over Le’Veon Bell an obvious choice

Eddie Lacy and Mike Daniels celebrate Lacy's fourth-quarter touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys.

Eddie Lacy and Mike Daniels celebrate Lacy’s fourth-quarter touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin made headlines earlier in the week when he said it was an “easy” decision to draft former Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell over Alabama bruiser Eddie Lacy.

“It was an easy decision for me,” Tomlin said Tuesday, per ESPN. “Obviously, Lacy’s a top-quality back, but probably it’s a matter of preference — just like I’m sure Cincinnati went through the same discussions and thoughts when they took Giovani Bernard in front of both of them.”

Bernard, Bell and Lacy have each enjoyed a successful first season in the NFL, albeit in different ways. Bernard has served in predominantly a complementary role with the Bengals alongside BenJarvus Green-Ellis, while Bell and Lacy have been “the guy” for their respective teams for as long as they’ve been healthy.

It will be several years before we’re able to determine who’s the best running back from this year’s draft class, but the best running back from the 2013 class–in 2013–is Lacy.

Bell–the 48th pick in April’s draft–has proven to be a well-rounded back who can play all three downs, but Lacy–the 61st pick–has emerged as one of the most reliable runners in the NFL with the Packers, possibly on his way to being named this year’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Throwing out the Washington game in which Lacy suffered a concussion on his first carry, Lacy has played 12 of a possible 14 games, while Bell has played in 11. Lacy is averaging 85.6 rushing yards per game compared to Bell’s 58.7 and his 4.1 yards per carry trump Bell’s average of 3.3.

As a rookie, Lacy has been the definition of a “workhorse.” The Packers put an emphasis on running the football this season and have leaned on Lacy even more since Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone Nov. 4 against the Chicago Bears, as Lacy has carried the ball 20 more more times in nine of the past 11 games. Bell has carried the ball 20 times just three times, while Bernard has yet to hit that mark in a game.

2

December

Packers Reportedly Sign Running Back Kahlil Bell

Kahlil Bell

Bell was reportedly signed to replace Johnathan Franklin

The Green Bay Packers have reportedly signed former Chicago Bears and New York Jets running back Kahlil Bell, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky.  Bell hasn’t played a down this season, after spending time with the Bears and Jets over the past two seasons.

Bell had his best game as a pro against the Packers on Christmas Day, 2011 when he rushed for over 120 yards in a Bears loss to Green Bay.

Bell’s signing means the Packers will need to make a corresponding roster move to make room for Bell.  Neither Bell’s signing nor any indication of what the next move will be have been announced by the Packers.

One scenario would have the Packers sending a current injured player to injured-reserve.  Among the possibilities are center Evan Dietrich-Smith, receiver Randall Cobb, offensive lineman J.C. Tretter or quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The  move to sign Bell became necessary when the Packers placed rookie running back Johnathan Franklin on season-ending injured reserve after he suffered a neck injury against the Minnesota Vikings in week 12.

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

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26

October

Eddie Lacy starts fast, stays cool

Eddie Lacy has been a shot of life to the Packers' ground game, but he's not much of a smack talker. He's just a guy who likes football. And cartoons.

Eddie Lacy has been a shot of life to the Packers’ ground game, but he’s not much of a smack talker. He’s just a guy who likes football. And cartoons.

Following Jermichael Finley’s neck injury suffered against the Cleveland Browns, the “Jermichael Finley and M.D. Jennings Show” on WDUZ-Green Bay needed a substitute for its bi-weekly host (Finley), who was released from the hospital Oct. 24.

In stepped left guard Josh Sitton–the host of last year’s show–which airs Wednesdays from Thornberry Creek at Oneida, and running back Eddie Lacy, Sitton’s guest.

The first segment of the show features “Rookie”–the show’s mediator/host/caller-of-shots–and the host. So my job as the intern/audio-board-guy allowed me to sit down and talk with Lacy for a good ten minutes.

And for me, as a college kid/intern/audio-board-guy it was really cool.

If you didn’t know he was the most valuable player of last year’s BCS National Championship and–in his first season–perhaps the biggest reason for the Green Bay Packers’ sixth-ranked running game, you’d think he was just a regular 20-something guy. Like me, but cooler.

I had a few things written down that I wanted to ask about: a) his love for cartoons, which was brought to my attention by Ty Dunne’s awesome piece about Lacy from this past summer, b) what it’s like to play in Wisconsin after playing in Louisiana through high school and Alabama in college, and of course c) the Alabama Crimson Tide, Lacy’s alma mater, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the country.

“I’ve won a lot,” Lacy laughed in reference to his not-too-shabby career to date. “Not bad.”

He’s averaging 100 yards per game in his last three starts and leads the 2013 draft class in rushing yards through seven weeks, but Lacy is just a guy off the field. Football isn’t even his favorite sport to watch.

We talked about Alabama’s dominance, for which he was a part of three National Championship teams in four seasons, but he said the only sport he “really watch(es) is basketball.” (He’s a Dallas Mavericks fan.)

“Yeah, I like Dirk man,” said Lacy, whose excitement for his favorite player (Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki) was displayed by a smile that forced his eyes shut. “It’s not even about athleticism, at all.”

7

September

Cory’s Corner: Eddie Lacy can jump start Packers’ offense

Eddie Lacy, Packers running back

Eddie Lacy could snap the Packers’ 43-game streak without a 100-yard running back, the longest active streak in the NFL.

A year ago, everyone was screaming for general manager Ted Thompson to fix the running game as the Packers finished 20th in the NFL in team rushing offense.

Heading into the 2013 NFL Draft, most analysts tabbed Eddie Lacy as the top running back. However, Lacy was the fourth back off the board.

In training camp, a picture taken and posted online by the Packers that gave the impression that he was carrying a little too much weight. The photo quickly went viral and teams began justifying why they steered clear of the powerful Alabama back because of how husky he looked.

It isn’t going to take long to figure out that Bengals, Steelers and Broncos missed on getting a franchise cornerstone that can run through and around defenders.

In the preseason he proved why he’s the real deal with perfectly placed spin moves that made him resemble a third down scat back.

Lacy is the most important feature of this offense for the success of this team. Obviously having Aaron Rodgers is of the utmost importance, but with Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson only playing two snaps in the preseason, the passing game will have to get its sea legs before it can start wowing its opponents.

Until then, Lacy needs to be the dominant straight-ahead runner that they coveted last spring. And if he continues to get creases and keeps his thick legs churning the Packers will snap the longest active streak of 43-straight games without a 100-yard rusher.

The most impressive stat from Lacy last year was when Alabama’s offense was facing third down with a range of one to three yards to pick up the first down. Here, teams are keying on the run and most of the time, Alabama has an extra blocker in the game telling the opponent its intentions. On 21 attempts, he racked up 108 yards, good enough for a very strong 5.14 average. Those are very respectable numbers from the SEC.

Lacy has shown he can catch the ball, but that isn’t his best quality. He likes to hit the opponent just as much as the opponent likes to hit him. Defenders will begin to learn his ferocity after taking his helmet to the ribs on multiple occasions.

2

September

NostraMarques: Statistical predictions for Packers offense

Channeling Randall Cobb himself, it's time to put my nerd glasses on and get statistical.

Channeling Randall Cobb himself, it’s time to put my nerd glasses on and get statistical.

The preseason is officially over. So the next time the Green Bay Packers take the field, the games will actually matter.

On offense, the Packers figure to have one of the most feared attacks in football. Since taking over as the starter in 2008, Aaron Rodgers has been fortunate to play with one of the deepest receiving corps in the NFL. And now, he may be playing alongside the best running back of his six-year starting career in rookie Eddie Lacy.

There are plenty of concerns along the offensive line, but if Rodgers stays upright, it’s going to be another great year for Green Bay’s offense.

Rodgers said that Randall Cobb has the potential to be a 100-catch guy for the Packers, but with so many capable weapons on the same offense, it may be tough for him to reach triple digits. However, with Greg Jennings now playing for the Vikings, Cobb will enter the season as the odds-on favorite to lead the team in targets. So by that logic, 100 catches could certainly happen.

Adam Czech recently posted his own Vegas-style over/unders for the Packers’ upcoming season. Between that and our annual staff 53-man roster predictions, it’s clearly crystal ball time at ALLGBP.com.

In the comments section, chime in and say whether you think the player will outproduce my prediction (over) or if they’ll fall short (under) of my fearless forecast.

All statistical projections are based on each player playing a full 16-game season. And it’s much more interesting to project Rodgers to throw for 4,316 yards instead of 4,300. So, that explains that.

Rodgers: 4,316 passing yards, 38 TD 6 INT. 280 rushing yards, 3 TD.

With what should be an improved running game, I think this could be Rodgers’ most efficient season to date. But from a statistical standpoint in terms of yards and touchdowns, it’s hard to see Rodgers ever topping his MVP season in 2011 in which he threw for over 4,600 yards and 45 touchdowns in just 15 games. He may not contend for league MVP this season if he puts up numbers similar to these, but let’s be honest, 4,300 yards, 38 touchdowns and just six interceptions isn’t too shabby. It’s crazy that those numbers don’t stand out, but that’s the standard he’s set. As long as the offensive line can keep him upright, Rodgers is going to have another really, really good season. And if Eddie Lacy is everything the Packers hope he is, the offense is going to be really, really good, too.

22

August

Eddie Lacy, Jermichael Finley and the Play-Action pass

Jermichael Finley enjoyed a big day against the Rams, due, in part, to Eddie Lacy.

Jermichael Finley enjoyed a big day against the Rams, due, in part, to Eddie Lacy.

Despite not punching the ball into the endzone, the Packers’ (kinda) first-team offense passed the eye test Saturday night against the St. Louis Rams.

Eddie Lacy continually punished defenders with his smash-mouth, bulldozer-like running style. Jermichael Finley was running free in the Rams’ secondary, four times catching wide-open passes from Aaron Rodgers.

On 18 snaps against the Rams on Saturday, Finley managed to catch four passes for 78 yards. Last season, Finley set a franchise record for receptions by a tight end with 61, but his 78 yards Saturday night would have been his highest single-game total in 2012.

And with Lacy providing the Packers with a newfound physical ground game, totaling Finley’s job may be a little easier in 2013.

The former Alabama running back racked up 40 yards on eight carries despite subpar offensive line play, as outlined earlier this week by Jersey Al. And although it was Lacy’s first game appearance in the NFL, it’s pretty clear that the Rams already respected the 22-year-old bruiser.

Let’s take another look at Lacy’s two best runs of the night.

1st Quarter 14:31 remaining

In a two-tight formation, Lacy gets the handoff as the single back. The line is sliding to the right, but center Evan Dietrich-Smith doesn’t quite have the quickness to cross his man’s face.

But instead of being stopped for negative yards, Lacy uses his well-documented spin move to get upfield. It was only a seven-yard gain, but a runner creating something out of nothing hasn’t been a common occurrence in Green Bay as of late.

1st Quarter 13:23 remaining

Again, Evan Dietrich-Smith is beaten off the line, but Lacy’s power bails him out.

After breaking out of the defensive tackle’s tackle, Lacy sheds another arm tackle from rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree. The 15-yard gain was Lacy’s longest of the night. It was at this point that Packers fans were all like, “Wow.”

On two of Finley’s four catches, Rodgers began the play with a fake handoff to Lacy. Let’s take a look at those two plays.

1st Quarter 14:01 remaining

Finley is lined up in the slot, Lacy is the deep back and the Rams are in zone coverage. Finley has a cornerback lined up across from him, but he’s released into the middle of the field upon his break.