Smaller Eddie Lacy shows up big in brief stint in Packers' preseason opener

Eddie Lacy finds a hole in the Cleveland defense on one of his four runs -- all productive -- in the Packers' preseason opener Friday. Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- You wanted to see how different Eddie Lacy looked after an offseason’s worth of talk about his weight. You had to look quickly, but you should have liked what you saw.

The Green Bay Packers’ oft-discussed running back carried the ball on the first four plays from scrimmage of Friday’s preseason game against the Cleveland Browns. The Lambeau Field crowd watched Lacy rush for 6, 3, 11 and 4 yards on his only four touches of the game.

Safe to say that coach Mike McCarthy, who challenged Lacy to lose weight after last season, would be happy with 6.0 yards per carry. It was a small sample size, but Lacy didn’t go down easily. He showed quickness and explosiveness on his 11-yard run, which featured his trademark spin move. It brought one of the loudest cheers in the Packers’ 17-11 win.

"It's important to run the football, as we know, but this is the time of year where you have to get the reps,” McCarthy said in halftime quotes distributed by the team. “We want to come out and run the football and really have it be a focus throughout the preseason.”

It doesn’t necessarily mean Lacy is back on the path to an 1,100-yard season, as he had in his first two years. But perhaps it's reason to start forgetting about last year’s 758-yard season. How much weight Lacy has lost is debatable -- his trainer, Tony Horton, said it’s 22 pounds, but that might be a stretch. Whatever Lacy weighs, if he can produce en masse as he did Friday on a small scale, the Packers should be pleased.

Two rookie QBs top depth chart: With Aaron Rodgers (rest) and Brett Hundley (ankle) in street clothes, rookie Joe Callahan got the start. The undrafted free agent from Division III Wesley College held his own. He directed a late second-quarter touchdown drive (12 plays, 80 yards in 2:27) during which he relied heavily on his tight ends. Justin Perillo had three catches on the drive, including a 15-yarder on third-and-7. Kennard Backman caught an 18-yarder down the seam. Callahan played the entire first half and finished 16-of-23 for 124 yards without an interception. "Joe did a lot of really good things,” McCarthy said. “He managed the run game. We had some QB movement that you would like a little more out of, but you really see the quarterback's mental [game] in the two-minute drill. I thought he was excellent." Fellow undrafted rookie Marquise Williams played the second half and finished 6-of-14 passing for 55 yards with an interception.

Maybe that player could start: Behind Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, there’s an open competition for the No. 3 receiver, which is essentially a starter in McCarthy’s offense. Jared Abbrederis has made his case. After an excellent three weeks to start training camp, Abbrederis caught a pair of passes for 23 yards, while Davante Adams didn’t have a ball thrown his way and Jeff Janis did not play.

Who got hurt?: There were 17 players on the list of scratches, but during the game the Packers did not announce any new injuries.

A surprise player who impressed: McCarthy went heavy on two-tight-end sets, which afforded Perillo plenty of snaps. He delivered with five catches for 52 yards in the first half. It should be a good competition between the sure-handed Perillo and the more athletic Backman for the No. 3 tight end spot.

When it was starters vs. starters, the Packers looked…: …ahead to next week since many of their starters did not play. Without Rodgers, Hundley and Nelson on offense or Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers on defense, it’s a stretch to say the Packers fielded a true starting unit on either side of the ball. Rodgers said on the statewide telecast that he plans to play Thursday when the Packers play the Raiders.

One reason to be concerned: The Packers were hoping to see how much Janis has progressed since his breakout performance in the playoff loss at Arizona. But the third-year receiver was a late scratch after he sustained a hand injury in practice on Wednesday. His right hand was wrapped in ice after the workout, and he was nowhere to be seen on the sideline during the game.

Mr. Jones’ new position: Former defensive end Datone Jones seems to have adjusted to his new position: outside linebacker. In addition to his one sack -- he was unblocked -- he had a pair of good rushes that forced the Browns quarterbacks to rush their throws.

Consistent Crosby: There’s a reason the Packers don’t have another kicker in training camp. Why mess with Mason Crosby’s groove? He made a pair of 54-yard field goals Friday to continue what has been a near-perfect summer. He’s missed only one kick in practice that wasn’t blocked (he did have two blocked in the Family Night practice).