In this Nov.
26, 2015, file photo, Green Bay Packers' Eddie Lacy runs for a
touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against
the Chicago Bears, in Green Bay, Wis. Lacy got a fresh start and
ran all over the Dallas Cowboys. Now the goal for the Green
Bay’s top running back is to stay on track for the season’s
final three games as the Packers look to capture a fifth
straight NFC North title.
GREEN BAY — The rushing yards have
been hard to come by for Eddie Lacy in a challenging season for the
Green Bay Packers' lead running back.
Lacy likely will fall short of a third
straight 1,000-yard season. But the Packers, at their best when Lacy
is churning out yards, have a favorable matchup as they look to end
the regular season with a fifth straight NFC North title.
Lacy has rushed for at least 90 yards
in all five games he's played against the Minnesota Vikings. The
Packers went 4-0-1 in those productive outings by Lacy and could use
another lift from their workhorse back Sunday night when they host the
Vikings to decide the division champion.
"Eddie is always looked at as a
primary contributor when we do our game plan," Packers coach Mike
McCarthy said. "So I'd say his contribution is needed."
Whether they can beat the Vikings may
depend on if the Packers' battered offensive line can create rushing
lanes for Lacy and James Starks, who also is expected to be part of
the game plan despite his recent fumbling issues.
Starting tackles David Bakhtiari and
Bryan Bulaga have been hampered by ankle injuries. Bulaga was knocked
out of the Packers' 30-point loss at Arizona on Sunday, a game
Bakhtiari didn't play.
While Bulaga is probable, Bakhtiari is
questionable for Sunday's game after he didn't practice Wednesday and
Thursday. The team had its customary day off from on-field work
"I'm going to give him every
chance to play in this game," McCarthy said of Bakhtiari.
Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) and quarterback Aaron
Rodgers (12) bump helmets prior to the start of an NFL football
game against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday Dec. 13, 2015, in Green
Green Bay's interior linemen also have
been dealing with an assortment of injuries in recent weeks.
After the Packers gave up a season-high
nine sacks in their last game, McCarthy is hoping to get better
balance out of the offense, which ranks 24th in the NFL for total
yards, but is No. 10 with a rushing average of 118.3 yards.
McCarthy said the goal going into each
game is for the running backs to touch the football 35 times. Green
Bay came close to that in its convincing 30-13 road win over the
Vikings on Nov. 22. Lacy, Starks and fullback John Kuhn combined for
31 rushing attempts and also caught two passes.
As a team that day, the Packers had a
nearly symmetrical run-pass ratio with 34 rushing attempts and 36 pass
plays, which included two sacks.
"We were efficient with our play
style and our execution," McCarthy said. "We ran the ball
the way it's supposed to be run. We didn't make a lot of mistakes in
the game. That's the style of play and level of execution that we're
going to need this week."
Even as he plays with a rib injury that
has nagged him the last two games, Lacy is ready to carry a heavy load
Sunday. He is listed as probable.
Lacy ran for 100 yards on 22 carries in
the earlier meeting with the Vikings, his first of only three 100-yard
games this season. He has rushed for 724 yards this season, well off
his prolific numbers of 1,100-plus yards each of his first two years
as a pro. In his five games against the Vikings, however, Lacy has run
for 534 yards and five touchdowns with four 100-yard games.
And he said the rematch against
Minnesota carries a sense of urgency because of what is on the line
for both teams.
"It's really about all of us being
on the same page," Lacy said. "One person can't do it by
themselves, and when we're all on the same page, we're able to have
success, whether it's running or passing."
NOTES: CB Sam Shields and DT B.J. Raji
are questionable for Sunday as they continue to recover from recent
concussions. The veteran starters have been limited participants in
practice this week. McCarthy said both players still must be cleared
from the league protocol for head injuries before they can play again.
... DT Mike Daniels (groin) and LB Mike Neal (hip) also are
questionable. LB Jayrone Elliott (quadriceps) and TE Justin Perillo
(hamstring) are out for the second straight game.