Once training camp ends teams around the NFL are forced to cut their rosters down to 53 players. Typically, teams have a specific quota on how many players they need to keep at certain positions.
The Green Bay Packers have done things differently for years. Conventional wisdom has said to almost always keep three quarterbacks on the roster. For years, the Packers only kept two.
They’ve kept five tight ends. They’ve kept three fullbacks. They’ve made all sorts of odd roster decisions under Ted Thompson. Every year they claim that the goal is to keep the best 53 players on the roster.
This season was no different for the Packers. They kept seven wide receivers even after Mike McCarthy said that could be excessive for the position. Because of the seven receivers they kept on the roster, they had to go lighter at other positions.
One of those spots was running back. Typically the Packers have kept at least three players at the position. This year they kept Eddie Lacy and James Starks. John Crockett’s injury and Brandon Burks floundering at the end of the preseason were part of the reason that decision was made.
Things were fine until James Starks injured his knee in practice before the team was set to take on the Dallas Cowboys. Instead of signing a running back to backup Eddie Lacy, the Packers went with Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb as their emergency options.
Lacy was already nursing a sprained ankle, but was able to gut it out in order to give the Packers an option at running back against the Cowboys. The biggest issue was going to be if Lacy were to get hurt during the game.
While he never appeared to exit the game because of re-aggravating his injury, reports surfaced that things did get worse for the Packers’ running back.
Lacy is now expected to miss several weeks due to an injury that is more severe than an ankle sprain.
The Packers have since added Knile Davis via trade from the Kansas City Chiefs. They are expected to promote Don Jackson from the practice squad. That leaves the team with two healthy running backs yet again in addition to the occasional use of Cobb and Montgomery.
The way the Packers have used their roster the last 10 days has been inexcusable. The Packers were aware of Starks’ injury early enough in the week to know that he was unlikely to be available for the game.
The fact that they went into their game last week with a hobbled Lacy as their only available true running back was irresponsible. It’s possible that Lacy could have re-aggravated his injury at any time, but the Packers never should have taken that chance in the first place.
Now, instead of a simple issue to solve, the Packers have a big problem on their hands. Lacy has been arguably the team’s best offensive player through the first five games of the season. The Packers appear to be at their best on offense when Lacy is the primary focus. When he’s rolling, the offense rolls.
He was clearly asserting himself as the best running back on the Packers’ roster. He was outperforming Starks by a wide margin. Now, because of irresponsible use of the roster, the Packers will be without him for an uncertain amount of time.
With a quarterback that has been struggling, the Packers could have looked to lean on their running game to help him out. Instead, the team has two players that are brand new to the roster likely to receive the bulk of the carries when they take on the Chicago Bears on Thursday night.
Unfortunately, this all could have been avoided if Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy had done a better job of handling their roster.