Eddie Lacy hopes for 2017 Packers return; surgery ended hope this year

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It’s now clear why the Green Bay Packers decided not to hold a spot for Eddie Lacy to return this season. But it's unclear what Lacy’s future with the Packers holds.

The running back, who will be a free agent after this season, is still in a walking boot and using a scooter to wheel himself around Lambeau Field on the week he would have been eligible to come off injured reserve because of his left ankle injury. Two weeks ago, the Packers gave up on Lacy when they used their lone designated-to-return exemption on rookie cornerback Makinton Dorleant.

In his first public comments since he went on injured reserve on Oct. 20, Lacy told ESPN.com there was no way he could have returned this season.

“Pre-surgery, we thought there was a chance,” Lacy said Tuesday during a promotional appearance for the Campbell’s Chunky Soup commercials he has filmed with several other NFL stars. “But I’m still in a boot and on a scooter. A lot of other guys were injured so we had to make different kind of moves. It just didn’t play out.”

Lacy first injured his left ankle on Oct. 9 in the second half against the New York Giants. He tried to play on it the next week against the Dallas Cowboys and carried a season-high 17 times before he was shut down and underwent surgery.

Lacy said he doesn’t expect there to be any long-term effects from his injury and he should be able to resume his regular workouts this offseason. It was those much-discussed workouts that Lacy believes allowed him to get off to the best start of his NFL career. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry and remains the Packers’ leading rusher even though he hasn’t played since Week 6.

Lacy would have been eligible to return this week.

Instead, his future with the Packers is in doubt. His injury came in the final year of his rookie contract. He was coming off a disappointing 2015 season after which coach Mike McCarthy called him out for being overweight. He reported in better shape after an offseason that included workouts with P90X founder Tony Horton and even though he still looked big, he was clearly more effective than he was last year.

If anything, however, Lacy’s injury perhaps made it more likely that he will be back with the Packers because the free-agent market might not be all that active for a running back coming off a major injury.

“I definitely hope so; I would love to be,” Lacy said. “I don’t see myself wanting to be anywhere else, but that’s something I can’t focus on right now. I just have to get myself better and put myself in a position to be good and do whatever I have to do.

“Honestly I have no idea how any of that works. I’ll just sit back, talk to my agent and we’ll see where it goes.”