The Green Bay Packers finally put rookie running back James Starks on display and early returns are quite promising. But are they promising enough to get the Packers to the promise land? Starks’ 73 yards on 18 carries against the 49ers for the Packers was good but how good was it?
To me it’s like when it has been cold out so long that the first time you feel 40 degrees again it feels hot. The Packers haven’t had a first and second down running back in so long Starks looks like a Pro Bowler already. Starks is already probably the best pure running back currently on the active roster, so now we know why he was activated from the PUP list and not put on IR.
I like Starks size and running style and I think he fits in with the Packers’ zone blocking scheme. He doesn’t dance around like Brandon Jackson and while he may not be a burner my guess is when he gets in the clear he won’t be caught, much like Ryan Grant. Obviously the cat is out of the bag so the Lions, Patriots, Giants and Bears will have video of him now, so he may take a step back while the Packers’ counter attack.
While I’d like to see the Packers saddle him and ride him until he makes a mistake, you have to wonder how much they will actually expose him down the stretch with so much on the line. Starks also has an injury history so you have to be worried about a guy who hasn’t played for a long time pulling a hamstring, which in this case could be devastating considering that is what kept him out so long since joining the Packers.
Maybe head coach Mike McCarthy is telling the truth when he says he will use a three back rotation between Jackson, Starks and Dimitri Nance. That approach seems to work pretty well for New England, as evidenced Monday night against the Jets. Anything to get Jackson back to his third-down role in which he is so dangerous.
I hope the Packers can build up a little lead Sunday against the Lions so these guys can get some carries. It would be nice to get some definition to this position. I also think an improved running game would help the Packers get over their slow start syndrome on offense. Having the option to run on the first play of the game without facing 2nd-and-12 certainly can’t hurt.
It certainly will be fun to watch this young guy develop.