GREEN BAY, Wis. -- So I arrived at Green Bay Packers minicamp Tuesday -- through a steady rain, in mid-50's temperatures on the fourth day of June, not that I'm complaining -- ready to see the team's overstocked offensive backfield. I never would have guessed that a player we all have expected to be tossed overboard was instead in the front of the line. Or at the top of the pile. You know what I mean.
Veteran James Starks, whose injury history created some of the urgency to draft a pair of tailbacks this spring, worked with the first team during most of Tuesday's practice. He was healthy and spry, to be sure, but you could hear an audible groan when he fumbled a handoff on the final play of a two-minute drill.
"He did a lot of good things and then he had a fumble the last play of no-huddle," coach Mike McCarthy said. "That's kind of what he has to eliminate from his game. He's been very productive for us. He's done a lot of good things for the offense. But his availability, and that one play or two plays, he has to get that part of it right."
Starks was taking his turn in an organized rotation designed to determine a training camp pecking order among him, Alex Green and rookies Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. DuJuan Harris is also expected to join that mix, but he remains sidelined by injury.
I know that fans of both the Packers and fantasy football want to know the Packers' plans for their backfield. Based on what I saw Tuesday, it's pretty clear that McCarthy will give everyone a chance -- Green worked with the first team during organized team activities -- and dispense playing time on merit.
McCarthy said the Packers' backfield "has the chance to be one of the best" in his tenure with the Packers.
"We've definitely created the opportunity when you look at the dynamics of the group," he said. "The three things that jump out to me are talent, diversity and youth. They're all going to grow and get better. They're a young group. … I think it's clearly the most competitive group that we've had in my time here."
More from Packers minicamp in a bit.