Packers send a message to Eddie Lacy after missed curfew

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers sent two messages to Eddie Lacy after he missed curfew on Wednesday night in Detroit:

On Thursday against the Lions, they took away his starting job at time when he was at his most productive stage of the season.

And on Friday, they worked out the running back who selected three spots ahead of Lacy in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft, former Wisconsin standout Montee Ball, who flamed out with the Denver Broncos.

For those on the outside, especially all of Lacy’s fantasy owners who were frustrated by his lack of playing time against the Lions, there’s finally some clarity to his situation – albeit after the fact.

And for Lacy, he’s fortunate he built up enough credibility in his first two seasons that he didn’t get the Alonzo Harris treatment. The Packers flat-out cut the undrafted rookie for the same curfew violation.

General manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy are giving Lacy the chance to mature, but he needs to meet them halfway.

To Lacy’s credit, he didn’t deny after the game that the curfew was an issue, but he chose not to reveal it at the time.

Regardless of whether or not this was an isolated incident, it’s been a rocky season for the 2013 NFL offensive rookie of the year. He reported to training camp well above his listed weight at 234 pounds, and his weight has been a question that has followed him all season. He sustained two injuries – a sprained ankle in Week 2 against the Seahawks and a pulled groin nearly two months later against the Panthers.

Lacy missed one game because of the groin injury but even before that, McCarthy announced that James Starks would take over as the No. 1 running back.

Lacy responded to that with production on the field with consecutive 100-yard games heading into Detroit on Thursday. When Lacy was limited to just 19 snaps and six touches (five carries for 4 yards and one catch for minus-1 yard), it was clear there was an off-the-field issue.

Earlier on Friday, before sources told ESPN about the curfew violation, coach Mike McCarthy wouldn’t say the exact reason for Lacy’s demotion, but looking back on his answer after the fact, it was telling.

“He needs to build off his preparation,” McCarthy said when asked how Lacy could get back in his good graces. “He’s put up some yards in the prior games, but he can be better. We need to be better as a team, frankly. I discussed this in our team meeting. There’s a lot more to give. The fine details are not where we want them to be. There’s a formula for us to get it there. That was made clear to our players and with the expectations and the commitment that we’ve made to each other, and we’ve got to do a better job.”

With four games remaining, Lacy has 517 rushing yards this season. He rushed for a total of 2,317 yards in his first two seasons.

It’s probably a good thing for Lacy that this happened this season instead of the next. Had it been next year, the final season of his original rookie contract, it might have been more costly.

A third straight 1,100-yard season is now unlikely, but he still has time to turn things around and resurrect his career with the Packers – if he gets the message, that is.