The Lacy-Franklin one-two punch

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When Eddie Lacy was last seen on the football field, he was the Green Bay Packers’ workhouse running back.

The rookie second-round pick from Alabama received the majority of the carries in the season-opening loss at San Francisco and appeared to be in a similar role in Week 2 against Washington before he was knocked out of the game with a concussion.

Lacy has been cleared to return after missing the Week 3 game at Cincinnati, but will his role be the same?

Since Lacy departed against the Redskins, two different Packers running backs rushed for 100 yards. James Starks ran for 132 yards against Washington, while rookie Johnathan Franklin ran for 103 yards a week later after Starks sustained a knee injury against the Bengals.

With Starks’ status uncertain, the Packers may go into Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions with their pair of rookies, Lacy and Franklin, as their top two backs.

“Man, that would definitely be a blessing and hopefully an inspiration to a lot of people,” Franklin said Monday, when the Packers returned to work following their bye week. “We’ve just got to keep working. We can’t get caught up in the one-two punch or caught up in the rookie this or the rookie that. We’ve just got to get better. This is bigger than us. This is about the Green Bay Packers.”

It wouldn’t be the first time under coach Mike McCarthy that the Packers featured a pair of rookie running backs. Early in the 2007 season, before the emergence of Ryan Grant later that season, the Packers relied on rookies Brandon Jackson and DeShawn Wynn, who were second- and seventh-round draft picks, respectively. But neither did enough or stayed healthy long.

Perhaps, though, this is what the Packers envisioned when they drafted Franklin two rounds after taking Lacy last April. Franklin might be the perfect complement to Lacy. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Franklin looks like an elusive runner outside the tackles and in the open field, while the more powerful Lacy (5-11, 230) appears to be a stronger inside runner.

“I think as far as running style, it really depends on the game plan, who you are playing and how you rotate those guys in,” McCarthy said. “Some people try to run certain schemes with certain backs. Some people play them differently based on personnel groups. Those are game plan questions.”