By Jon Meerdink
Everything tends to look rosy before the grind of the regular season begins. No position on the Packers’ roster greater exemplifies this phenomenon than running back, where the Packers presumably have a solid backfield in the works. Eddie Lacy is coming off the best rookie season a Packers running back has ever had. James Starks is back as well, returning after the best year of his injury-riddled career. And DuJuan Harris, the unlikely savior of the Packers’ running back corps in 2012, is back at work after missing all of last season win an injury.
That’s the positive angle. It would also be perfectly legitimate to assume that at some point this season, the Packers will very likely be missing two of those three guys.
James Starks, obviously, has been anything but a paragon of health. He missed three games last year due to injury, and that’s the best he’s ever been in terms of availability. Starks was inactive for all but six games in 2012, and famously started the season on the PUP list his rookie year in 2010. It’s worth wondering whether the 28 year old back will be healthy enough to back up Mr. Lacy all year.
The same goes for DuJuan Harris, who hasn’t played a meaningful down of football since January 12, 2013. He had a brief cameo in the Packers’ third preseason game last year, but aside from that, the last time we saw Harris was in the Packers’ season ending loss to the 49ers at Candlestick Park. It’s worth wondering exactly what the Packers have in the fourth year runner.
Finally, there’s Eddie Lacy, who was remarkably durable last year. He started 15 games, but really missed two for all intents and purposes after Brandon Meriweather knocked him upside the head early in the Washington game. While it’s unfair to assume that he won’t be durable, Lacy’s hard-charging running style and long history of small injuries makes you wonder how long he can keep it up.
Of course, all this is nothing more than cold, hard speculation. For all I know, Lacy will rush for 1500 yards this year, Starks will be the slashing backup he was last year, and Harris will spell them both with his unique jitterbug style of running. Almost anything could happen. I just think there needs to be a little caution out there.