James Starks Return Proves Packers Commitment to Run Game
After years of being pass happy, the Green Bay Packers are committed to running the football and by re-signing free agent running James Starks to a new two-year contract Monday, the team only reaffirmed its drive to be one of best running teams in the NFL.
Tuesday was a whirlwind day for Starks, who was originally scheduled to travel to Pittsburgh to meet with the Steelers but ended up canceling the visit and agreeing to terms with Green Bay.
The former sixth-round draft choice from the University of Buffalo came into his own last season in a complementary role as he carried the ball 89 times for 493 yards (5.5 yards per carry), while also catching 10 passes for 89 yards and scoring three total touchdowns.
After four injury-riddled seasons, the Packers finally realized his body can’t take the punishment of being a starter but as a backup, who gets 5-10 carries a game, he can be lethal.
With the emergence of 2013 NFL offensive rookie of the year Eddie Lacy at running back, the Packers no longer need Starks to be their starter, which makes him a perfect fit for Green Bay.
The 6-1,203-pound bruiser runs with reckless abandon, making him a nightmare for defenses but also making him injury prone. It was a running style that simply couldn’t handle 20 carries a game. Yet, less appears to be more and even though he touched the ball just 99 times last year, he had seven plays of more than 20 yards (Lacy had 6).
Starks also provides the Packers with a great insurance policy in case Lacy is sidelined with his own injury issues, which are not insignificant. He has started games for this team in the past and is more than capable of carrying the load if needed for a game or two.
The re-signing for the former Buffalo product gives the Packers a loaded backfield with Lacy, second-year man Jonathan Franklin and DuJuan Harris all set to return in 2014.
Last offseason, head coach Mike McCarthy made a commitment to running the ball better and now with Starks back in the fold, the Packers have finally built a dominant running game and are not just boasting when they say they run it as well as anyone in the NFL — because its the truth.