Starter Pack: Run game surprises Rodgers

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

GREEN BAY, Wis. – When we last discussed the Packers’ running game – all of two days ago – it was ranked fourth in the NFL through Sunday’s games. Following the completion of the "Monday Night Football" game between Seattle and St. Louis, the Packers jumped up a spot, moving ahead of the Seahawks and into third in yards per game (141.4).

We’ve discussed at various times over the last couple of months how much coach Mike McCarthy was committed to improving the running game. Perhaps you were skeptical. If so, don’t feel bad. So was quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who said as much during an appearance on ESPN’s "Pardon the Interruption" on Tuesday evening.

“Every team is different,” Rodgers said on PTI. “I didn’t really expect this type of production from the run game this year, but here we are. We’re sitting in the top five in yards per game rushing the football.”

For Rodgers, it has been a welcome addition considering all the weapons he has lost in the passing game. The Packers played last Sunday without three of their top four receivers – Randall Cobb, James Jones and tight end Jermichael Finley.

“That definitely takes a lot of pressure off of some holes we’ve had to fill in the passing game,” Rodgers said.

Rookie running back Eddie Lacy leads the NFL in rushing over the last four weeks with 395 yards. For the season he's tied for 13th overall with 446 yards, and he needs only 18 more yards rushing to match Alex Green’s team-leading total from last season.


  • Finley made his first public comments since the Oct. 20 neck injury that left him hospitalized for four days, in a first-person account for Sports Illustrated's MMQB website. Among other things, he said he definitely wants to play football again. To that end, ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder reported that Finley is expected to visit more medical experts this week before the Packers determine whether to place him on injured reserve. Even if doctors clear Finley to return, there’s no guarantee the Packers will feel comfortable putting him back on the field. They didn’t after Nick Collins’ 2011 neck injury. Granted, it was a different type of injury, but we looked at whether the Packers might follow the same approach.

  • Rodgers on PTI discussed "the hug" with Vikings receiver Greg Jennings after Sunday's game. The Packers continued to inch up in the ESPN Power Rankings, climbing to No. 8 this week. And we posted the weekly breakdown of playing time, looking at snap counts from Sunday's win over the Vikings.

  • At ESPNWisconsin.com, you can listen to Rodgers’ weekly radio show in its entirety.

  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Pete Dougherty, in advance of Monday night’s game against the Bears, wrote that Chicago hired Marc Trestman as coach in large part because of his work with quarterbacks – which was much the same reason the Packers hired Mike McCarthy back in 2006. Dougherty also had a scouting report on the Bears.

  • In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Lori Nickel wrote that Sam Shields has become the Packers' shutdown cornerback this season.