Starter Pack: Inside the rushing numbers

A roundup of what’s happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – How many ways are there to measure just how much the Packers’ running game has improved?

We’ve written at length this season about Eddie Lacy, who was named the NFL’s offensive rookie of the month for October; about James Starks and Johnathan Franklin, who also have 100-yard rushing games to their credit this season; and about the blocking not only from the offensive line but the tight ends and receivers, too.

But sometimes, the only real way to measure it is in the numbers.

Heading into the "Monday Night Football" matchup with the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field, here are some telling statistics about the Packers’ running game:

Three of the Packers' four best rushing performances over the last five years have come in the last five games, according to ESPN Stats & Information. After the 202 yards rushing in Week 7 of the 2009 season against Cleveland, the Packers' next three best rushing games over the last five years have been in Weeks 3 and 8 this season, when they rushed for 182 yards against Minnesota and Cincinnati, and in Week 5 with 180 yards against Detroit.

The Packers have had an 80-yard rusher in each of their last six games, which is the longest streak in a single season in team history.

Heading into Week 9, the Packers had the second-largest increase in rushing yards per game over last season in the NFL. The Packers’ improvement of 35.1 rushing yards per game was second only to Oakland, which had made a 50.1-yard improvement heading into this past weekend.

“Whenever Coach [Mike McCarthy] has made an emphasis, that emphasis has been rectified and it’s gotten better,” Packers offensive-line coach James Campen said last week. “I know that this is the eighth year with him, and it has gotten better, whatever emphasis it is. It is an entire group that has made the necessary changes to be productive.”

In case you missed it on ESPN.com:

  • Receiver James Jones, who has not played since an Oct. 13 knee injury, said after Saturday’s practice, the final one in preparation for the Bears, that he was truly 50/50 on whether he would play on Monday night, but he looked good in practice last week.

  • Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt and several of his players described the weekly tests they take in their meetings to help prepare them for what they will see on game day.

  • And in the Weekend Wrap, there were notes on linebacker Jamari Lattimore’s play, cornerback Micah Hyde’s likely expanded role on kick returns and more.


  • At ESPNWisconsin.com, Jason Wilde had a three-part series on how the entire Packers organization has approached building the team – from the general manager to the coaches to the players.

  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Pete Dougherty picked a Mount Rushmore for both the Packers and Bears.

  • In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Bob McGinn wrote that contrary to popular belief, the Packers still could win even if they lost quarterback Aaron Rodgers to an injury.