GREEN BAY—Eddie Lacy couldn’t be more appreciative of the blocking he received on the screen pass last Sunday that broke for a 56-yard touchdown.
There was just one thing about it he didn’t like. As Lacy cut back across the field to break away from traffic, receiver Jordy Nelson blew past him to run interference in front on the way to the goal line.
Lacy never took a hit on the play, but his ego did.
“Did you see that?” Lacy joked with reporters on Wednesday. “I really thought I was fast until I saw him pass me. He made me look a little slow.”
Be that as it may, Lacy has proven tough to bring down in the open field. The 56-yard TD was the second screen pass to rupture into a big gain in the last two contests. Lacy took a screen pass 67 yards down the sideline in New Orleans.
Those two plays have highlighted Lacy’s 191 receiving yards over the last two games to go with 109 rushing yards. That’s not the conventional way a 230-pound running back racks up 300 yards from scrimmage, but the Packers will take it however it comes.
Lacy’s dual-threat game of late prompted quarterback Aaron Rodgers to recall a favorite player he watched growing up, San Francisco running back Roger Craig, who became the first player in NFL history with 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving in the same season.
“I was teasing Eddie after last week, that he has the potential to be a thousand-thousand guy,” Rodgers said.
Lacy is well off that kind of pace, given he had less than 100 receiving yards prior to the last two games. He could still get to 1,000 on the ground if he can average around 75 rushing yards over the last seven regular-season games, but in the bigger picture, Lacy doesn’t care.
Yards are yards, as long as they contribute to wins, and his involvement in the passing game has other benefits, too.
“I think it’s going to help the guys out up front, slowing down the pass rush,” Nelson said. “It gives us another way to make a big play.
“The more you can do on offense, the more effective you’ll be and the more the defense will be on their heels.”
Heading into Sunday’s showdown with the Eagles, the Packers’ formula at home has been to put the defense on its heels from the get-go.
In Green Bay’s last three games at Lambeau Field, the offense has scored seven first-quarter touchdowns. Those fast starts have helped produce eventual leads of 42-0, 28-0 and 45-0 against the Vikings, Panthers and Bears, respectively.
“It’s definitely not easy doing that,” Lacy said. “It takes everybody being on the same page and, so far, we’ve definitely been doing that. But the key is to stick to doing that and not get too, I guess, into ourselves thinking it’s going to be automatic.”
If there’s an unsung hero on this highly productive offensive unit, it might be rookie center Corey Linsley.
On his radio show earlier this week, Rodgers threw Linsley’s name out there for Pro Bowl consideration, and he reiterated similar praise on Wednesday, describing the fifth-round draft pick with the words calm, bright, focused and determined.
“I’m really proud of him, the way he’s played, and I think he deserves more attention,” Rodgers said. “The respect that he’s getting from the guys that he’s blocking I think speaks for itself.”
For his part, Linsley feels he has steadily improved all season, and he may have taken another step forward in having to prepare all last week to play without veteran guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang at his sides. Sitton and Lang ultimately did play, but Linsley used the week as “an opportunity to get better” and was ready to take charge without them.
As for Rodgers’ comments, the relatively quiet Linsley was humbled but vowed not to be distracted.
“For him to say that, that’s awesome, but for me to even think about that, I have to put that in the back of my mind,” Linsley said. “We’ve got seven weeks left to play, I’ve got seven weeks left to prove myself. I feel very honored that he would say that, but I just have to keep my head down and keep working.”
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - NOV. 12