By Christina Rivers
CBS Local Sports presents 32 Players in 32 Days, a daily feature focusing on one impact player from each NFL team.READ MORE: U.S. Postal Service Hiring Mail Carriers In Chicago
Eddie Lacy – RB – #27
Hometown: Geismar, LA
Experience: 2 years
During the nine years that Head Coach Mike McCarthy has led the Green Bay Packers, he’s watched the team have to rely on the passing game to put enough points on the scoreboard to seal victories. With the re-emergence of reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Eddie Lacy, the Packers may have one of the strongest quarterback-running back combinations in the league in 2014. The combination could offer Green Bay the offensive balance they’ve needed to compete at the next level, especially on the ground.
Lacy, the highest running back to be drafted by the Packers since Darrell Thompson in 1990, was selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft (No. 61 overall) after electing to forego his senior season with the Crimson Tide. Lacy’s college career was filled with highlights: he was a member of three national championship teams in three of his four seasons at Alabama; he was the second running back for the school in four years to earn Offensive Most Valuable Player honors in the BCS National Championship Game; and he earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors as a full time starter in 2012. His physical ability and game awareness made his selection by the Packers and easy one, and he gave them a rookie season to be remembered.READ MORE: Mayor Lori Lightfoot Names Celia Meza As City's Top Attorney, Fills Two Other Key City Hall Vacancies
Although the Packers ran the ball just 44.6 percent of the time in 2013, Lacy rushed for a franchise rookie record 1,178 yards, averaging 4.14 yards per carry while scoring 11 touchdowns, including at least one score in six of the Packers last seven games. The result was that opposing defenses could no longer focus on quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ arm.
Lacy’s play helped push Green Bay’s league totals in rushing yards per game to 133.5 (seventh) and fourth in yards per attempt (4.7). “I think Eddie Lacy looks more polished, more comfortable in the offense, the little things,” McCarthy said of his second-year running back. “Obviously, extremely productive as a runner, running the football. As far as pass protection, the recognition of defensive identity and scheme…pressure schemes and so forth, check-downs, route running. He’s getting better.”
Rodgers lost seven starts in 2013 with a broken collarbone, but the duo was still able to help lead the Packers to third in total offense in the NFL. With a healthy Rodgers looking primed and Lacy getting extremely high praise coming out of training camp, 2014 may be the year the Packers push their opponents to try to keep up.
“I know it’s going to be a lot tougher than last season,” admitted Lacy, “but we have the greatest quarterback in the NFL, and with him being back there it’s not just like they’ll be able to stack the box and focus on me.” No one is predicting that Green Bay will become a run-first offense, including Lacy, but he agreed that the focus on a more balanced offense will give the Packers a boost. “It definitely makes it harder for (opponents),” Lacy said. “They can’t just play the run or the pass. They have to pick one or figure out a way to stop both. But having (Rodgers) back there definitely helps out a lot and makes it tougher for defenses to stop us.”MORE NEWS: 2 Injured In Crash On Outbound Stevenson Expressway At Damen Avenue
Christina Rivers has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers and National Football League professionally as a reporter and photographer for over a decade. Rivers studied exercise physiology and sports psychology at Brigham Young University as a student-athlete. Christina is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. Her work can be found on