Lacy adds to his game with his hands

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- During a drill early in a training camp practice this week, Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy was running routes against inside linebackers and safeties.

He popped free and caught a pass over the middle.

To hear coach Mike McCarthy tell it, at the end of the play Lacy turned to his coach and said: "Man, I did this drill all last year and never got open."

So when people ask what Lacy can do to follow up his first NFL season – when he rushed for 1,178 yards, won offensive rookie of the year honors and was the best thing that's happened to the Packers' running game since Ryan Grant of 2007-08 – the answer might be found in that kind of detail.

McCarthy said early in the offseason that he wanted Lacy, and the rest of his running backs, to become proficient on all three downs so the offense don't have slow down to put a designated third-down back in the game. A significant part of that involves pass protection, but it also could put Lacy in position to become a bigger factor in the passing game.

Lacy caught 35 passes for 257 yards (a 7.3-yard average) last season, the most by a Packers running back since Tony Fisher had 48 catches for 347 yards in the 4-12 season of 2005. The last Packers back to reach 50 receptions was Ahman Green in 2003, when he had the exact same average as Lacy did last season.

It's not exactly Randy Moss receiving numbers, but last season Lacy started calling himself "Moss" when he caught passes in practice, and people keep bringing it up with him.

"I'm thinking that’s starting to get a little out of hand," Lacy said. "But I mean, I'm a pretty decent catcher."

That said, Lacy's game is still going to be based on the power he packs on his 5-foot-11, 230-pound frame. It was on display Friday, when he ran over cornerback Tramon Williams during a team drill.

"We're not going to line up and feature Eddie in the passing game," McCarthy said. "He still needs to be standing back there behind the quarterback getting the ball, running with his shoulders square."