GREEN BAY — For the first time in nearly four years, the Packers enter a game without Eddie Lacy or James Starks in their backfield.
Instead, the offense may turn to undrafted rookie Don Jackson, who was promoted from the practice squad on Thursday after Lacy was placed on injured reserve.
Jackson (5-10, 208) had a productive career at Nevada where he finished with the 13th-most rushing yards (2,318) in program history despite playing only three seasons.
As a senior, he rushed for 1,081 yards and eight touchdowns en route to becoming the 19th member of the Wolfpack to surpass 1,000 yards in a season.
When asked about Jackson last week, running backs coach Ben Sirmans expressed confidence in the rookie running back should he be summoned into action.
That call finally came in time for tonight’s matchup at Lambeau Field with the Chicago Bears.
“If it did come down to a situation where he’s out there, obviously he’d be a guy that we would be confident (in),” Sirmans said. “That’s why we brought him back. I liked him during OTAs. Since he’s been back, you can see the energy and the juice he brings to the table.”
Jackson was one of 19 college free agents the Packers signed following this year’s NFL Draft, but he sat out most of the offseason program with an injury.
Jackson was released during the summer, but signed to the Packers’ practice squad at the start of the regular season. That’s where he’s remained for the first six weeks of the 2016 season.
The Packers have had success in the past with calling in former undrafted free agents in a pinch. Most recently, DuJuan Harris helped propel the offense late in the 2012 season.
The Packers have the option available to return one player from injured reserve to the active roster after eight weeks. The earliest Lacy could return would be against Chicago on Dec. 18.
Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy confirmed early this week that Starks underwent knee surgery over the weekend, but the team expects to have him back at some point this season.
For now, the Packers will move forward with Jackson, newly acquired veteran Knile Davis, fullback Aaron Ripkowski, and perhaps Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb in the backfield.
Montgomery lined up as a running back often in last week’s game against Dallas when the Packers were trying to reduce Lacy’s workload due to an ankle injury.
The second-year receiver finished the game with 141 all-purpose yards, including a career-high 10 catches for 98 yards.