GREEN BAY—A baker’s dozen. That’s all, but that’s all he needed.
Packers running back Eddie Lacy touched the ball just 13 times in the preseason, fewer than in all but one full game he played in as a rookie. He sat out two August games entirely and played only the first series in the other two contests, compiling 11 carries for 61 yards and a TD, plus two receptions for 22 yards.
The limited workload was by design, as Lacy was far more active during training camp practices, when ball carriers aren’t tackled to the ground. His in-game, full-contact work was minimal, and that was the idea for a guy whose touch tally last year reached nearly 350 by the time last January’s playoff game ended.
“I think Eddie’s ready to go,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Tuesday, two days before Thursday’s season opener in Seattle. “I’m looking forward to seeing Eddie perform.”
So is the rest of the offense, which knows Lacy and the ground game are the best antidote the Packers have to counter the Seahawks’ fierce pass rush and physical coverage in the secondary.
Heading into the regular season, the NFL’s 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year feels fresh. He also feels calm.
“I’m a lot less nervous,” Lacy said earlier this week. “I’m clear-minded and I know what I’m going into.
“I was nervous every time (last year). Going out every time felt like the first time all over again. I never really got settled or got comfortable, but as the season went along it got better.”
Lacy is also healthy, which he wasn’t down the stretch last season, though a bum ankle didn’t stop him from racking up 356 rushing yards and five TDs in December.
Most of that work was done without Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. In fact, due to Rodgers’ broken collarbone and Lacy’s early-season concussion, the pair was on the field together last season for only seven full games, the playoff loss being the seventh.
Season one with Rodgers and a true bell cow running back behind him was short-circuited. On to season No. 2.
“Together, we definitely can be explosive, but it takes the guys up front as well,” Lacy said. “They’ve been working hard and making sure they block their man. It should be a big year for us.”
One of those guys up front is right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who will be playing in his first regular-season game since Week 9 of 2012. A hip injury cost him the second half of that season, and a knee injury in training camp sidelined him all of last year.
“I think he’s getting ready to play his best football. He’s 15 pounds heavier. He’s in great shape,” McCarthy said.
It’s been long road rehab-wise, and Bulaga said his body feels the best it has in a long time. Seattle’s noise and pass rush await.
“I don’t go back years in the past and look at individual games,” Bulaga said. “This is a new challenge, new game, new year. I just have to get ready to go.”
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - SEPT. 2