The Green Bay Packers’ search for a backup running back has so far come up empty. Unless addressed, it’s bound to become a major problem as the season wears on.
The team’s official depth chart lists no backups behind Eddie Lacy and James Starks. Should either or both get hurt, possible fill-ins are receivers Ty Mongomery and Randall Cobb or fullback Aaron Ripkowski.
The other option is activating practice squad running back Don Jackson. Very little information is available on the undrafted rookie out of Nevada, who measures 5’10” and 208 pounds. However, the Packers actually released Jackson before training camp started, only to bring him back on the practice squad without seeing him in camp or the preseason.
It’s not that the team hasn’t tried to find a backup.
John Crockett, who had nine carries for 21 yards last year, had been running about neck-and neck with Brandon Burks during the preseason. On August 30, however, the team placed him on injured reserve due to a shoulder injury.
Burks was on the final roster for one day, then bumped off by Jhurell Pressley, who was cut by the Vikings and claimed off waivers on September 4 by the Packers. Pressley, who coach Mike McCarthy had praised for his big-play ability, was let go 10 days later.
The Packers also brought in veteran C.J. Spiller for a tryout on September 20. The 29-year old, who was let go by the Saints on September 13, had 3,433 rushing yards in six years with the Bills and Saints, but the rumors were that he had a bad knee. The Packers didn’t sign Spiller and the Seattle Seahawks did on September 28. They immediately put him to use in week 4.
Could there be redemption for free agent Alonzo Harris? He was the companion of Eddie Lacy when the two missed curfew last year, resulting in Harris immediately being waived by the team. Though Harris only had four rushes for 19 yards in 2015, he had beaten out Crockett to make the final roster in 2015. He’s available.
The latest possibility is Justin Forsett, who the Ravens released on Tuesday. Forsett, now 30, is a 5’8” 195-pound journeyman who has played for the Seahawks, Colts, Texans, Jaguars and Ravens.
Given James Starks’ abysmal start (12 carries for 9 yards), an injury to Eddie Lacy could imperil the Packers offense somewhat like Jordy Nelson’s injury did last year. Lacy has been hobbled by injuries all three of his previous years, and he’s missed games due to injury in two of those seasons.
The team’s lack of depth at running back badly needs to be resolved.