GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers’ running game is still going next to nowhere – and coach Mike McCarthy may have to consider bringing James Starks out of mothballs.
Alex Green finished Sunday’s 24-15 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars with 54 yards on 22 carries (2.5-yard average). And while it marked the third straight game that Green eclipsed the 20-carry mark, it also was the third straight game he failed to average more than 3.0 yards per attempt. Green carried 22 times for 65 yards (3.0-yard average) at Houston on Oct. 14 and 20 times for 35 yards (1.8-yard average) last week at St. Louis.
“We need to improve,” McCarthy said. “I haven’t watched the tape … (but) the run game is not good enough and that’s today. So we’ll have an opportunity to look at it, we’ll go through with our players and we’ll be ready for Arizona.”
McCarthy tried using No. 6 offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith as a blocking tight end/fullback with fullback John Kuhn (hamstring) out, and the results were mixed. Green gained just 1 yard on one run with him in the game, but Starks’ 8-yard run in the third quarter came when Dietrich-Smith has a nice seal block while pulling to the right.
“We practiced it a couple different ways. The first one (didn’t work), I was hoping we’d get back to it again because I knew it was going to be a good play,” said Dietrich-Smith, who acknowledged that he’d heard of the old U-71 package the Packers used to run with tackle Kevin Barry under coach Mike Sherman. “I think it’s a good package. I played some blocking tight end in college, so I like it. It’s not really anything new to me. It’s just fun to get out there on the field, man. It’s fun to play.”
Starks, who had played only eight snaps all season (all in Houston, where he had five runs for 11 yards) before Sunday, entered camp as the starter but suffered a turf toe injury in the preseason opener Aug. 9. The Packers then signed Cedric Benson and, when he went down with a foot injury at Indianapolis on Oct. 7, gave the job exclusively to Green.
“It was good. I didn’t really play that much, (but) I enjoyed it. Just, after getting a couple touches, you want to play more. Overall, it was fun,” Starks said. “Just take what they give you, try to make the most out of it and hopefully you get more opportunities to do what you’ve got to do.”
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