The Packers are looking forward to a long, successful future with 24-year-old running back Eddie Lacy, so they want to make sure they don't wear him out in the present.
Weston Hodkiewicz wrote Wednesday in the Green Bay Press-Gazette that Packers coaches "would like to lessen the burden" on Lacy his season. Lacy handled the ball more than 300 times in 15 games as a rookie and played through an ankle injury for the final month of the season. In an effort to keep Lacy near 100 percent for the year, the Packers want to involve James Starks and DuJuan Harris more in 2014. How much more hasn't been figured out yet.
"We haven't sat down and figured out an 'X' number of carries for Eddie," offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. "Eddie was a workhorse for us last year, and then when James got in there last year, he ran very hard. That was a great one-two punch. Now you factor in DuJuan and the other guys, it's going to be interesting to see how that plays out."
Lacy began being listed on the injury report with an ankle injury in Week 15. In the final three games of the regular season, Lacy averaged about 22 touches and 114 yards per game. He also scored four times. Those numbers are skewed slightly by a huge game versus the Cowboys' putrid defense, but overall, he was just fine while dinged up.
I understand the Packers' desire to keep Lacy healthy for the long haul, but a player of his size and with such a physical style is going to get nicked. That's just how it is, unfortunately. The impressive part is that Lacy apparently knows how to play effectively through pain. Plus, what's to say Starks and/or Harris will stay healthy themselves? Harris missed all of last season with a knee injury, and Starks has been sidelined for more than one-third of the games in his four-season career due to a bunch of medical issues.
When the going gets tough and the Packers want to run the ball, they are going to lean heavily on Lacy, just as they did last year. He's shown that he can handle it. He is a mid-first-round fantasy pick.