Green Bay Packers running back James Starks

Whether Eddie Lacy is available to play or not, James Starks is the Green Bay Packers starting running back, according to coach Mike McCarthy.

“James Starks I look at as a starter,” McCarthy said. “He’ll get the starting opportunity this week.”

Starks is coming off a game where he had 20 carries for 132 yards and a touchdown. He also caught four passes for 36 yards. Lacy, meanwhile, is coming off a game where he had one carry and a concussion after a cheap-ass hit by Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather.

But McCarthy’s comments seem to make it clear that even if Lacy is ready to go — and it looks like he may be — Starks has earned the No. 1 job, at least for now.

“Eddie Lacy is making progress. He seems to be doing fine. We’re going through protocol,” McCarthy said. “He looks good, he’s in the meeting, that’s always a positive sign. He has couple more tests tomorrow to pass before he can practice.”

McCarthy also mentioned the rookie Johnathan Franklin, who hasn’t seen the field since the preseason, is likely to get some playing time this week. Whoever the Packers are handing the ball too, they’re going to face a much tougher challenge in Cincinnati, than they did against Washington.

The Bengals are ranked seventh in the NFL in run defense. They’ve given up just 125 yards in two games and are holding opposing runners to 2.8 yards per carry. Washington, meanwhile, is dead last in the NFL. They’ve given up 402 yards and 5.5 per carry through two games.