For running back Eddie Lacy, his career couldn’t have started any better. In his first two seasons as a professional, Lacy rushed for 2,317 yards with 20 rushing touchdowns, while also chipped in 77 receptions for 684 yards and four receiving touchdowns, in the Packers passing game. Lacy was so impressive in his 2013 rookie season that he was named offensive rookie of the year. But as time went on things changed for Lacy and the Packers.
An Eddie Lacy Decision Looms for the Green Bay Packers
It has been well chronicled that in the 2015 season that Lacy fell out of shape. Some have speculated that Lacy was 30 pounds above the weight the Packers coaching staff expected him to play at. In fact, his condition was such an issue that Packers head coach Mike McCarthy stated at his season ending news conference that Lacy “cannot play at the weight he was at this year”. Lacy finished that season with 758 yards on the ground with just three rushing touchdowns. With the drop in production and Lacy firmly in McCarthy’s doghouse, he found himself at a crossroads entering the 2016, which happened to be the last season in his rookie contract.
Leading up to this past season, Lacy spent time with renowned fitness guru Tony Horton, hoping to enter 2016 in better shape. Although Lacy’s body wasn’t noticeably different, he had more bounce to his step and appeared ready to get back to where he was in 2013 and 2014. Unfortunately for Lacy, he suffered an ankle injury that only allowed him to play just five games this season. Before his season was cut short, Lacy had run for 360 yards on 71 carries with an impressive 5.1 yards per carry average. But still, with the weight issues in 2015 and the season ending ankle injury last year, his future with the Packers seems cloudy at best.
For Packers general manager Ted Thompson and his staff, they are going to have to determine if they believe Lacy can get back to where he was before the weight issues and ankle injury. Thompson understands that Lacy isn’t a speed running back; his game is based on power, so Lacy will always be a bigger type running back. But the Packers won’t accept the shape that Lacy was in 2015. There is a strong possibility that Lacy’s ankle injury could be effected by the weight he carries putting more stress on his ankles and feet. Thompson and his staff will have to determine if Lacy, with his bruising running style and his bigger stature, will hold up to the grind as an NFL running back.
Playing in Lacy’s Favor
One thing playing in Lacy’s favor for returning to the Packers, is that they won’t need him to be the main ball carrier if he were to return. With injuries to the backfield last season, the Packers shifted former wide receiver Ty Montgomery to running back, a move that appears to be permanent. Montgomery rushed for 457 yards and three touchdowns during his time at running back last season. But even with how well Montgomery performed, he isn’t a type of running back that will be able to carry the load by himself. That could make a spot for Lacy, to be a part of a one-two punch for the Packers running game. Lacy’s power would help compliment Montgomery’s elusiveness and speed.
Another factor that could see Lacy being brought back is the release of veteran running back James Starks this off-season. After injuries and ineffectiveness caused Starks’ 2016 season to go off the rails, the Packers decided to part ways with the veteran running back. Without another veteran running back presence on the roster, Lacy could be what the Packers need.
The injury and conditioning concerns could put a smile on Thompson’s face. Thompson is known for his tightness in giving out new contracts, so with the questions that accompany Lacy, he could be had on the cheap this off-season, possibly even signing a short “prove it deal”.
Forecasting Lacy’s Packers Future
It seems like Lacy is worth being brought back, even if the Packers spend a pick on a running back in this year’s NFL draft. Lacy won’t be asked to carry the load for the Packers, which might make Lacy a very nice “two” in a one-two running back punch with Montgomery. If this past season proved anything, the Packers can’t be caught with their pants down again at the running back position. Bringing back Lacy is one step in making sure that doesn’t happen next season.