GREEN BAY – Eddie Lacy already has been through a lot this season, so there’s no reason to believe he can’t get through this.
Now that Lacy has put together back-to-back 100-yard rushing games for the first time in his career – regaining his status as the Packers’ feature back and breaking out of a slump that had fans and analysts wondering about his confidence, his weight and everything in between – the questions currently surround his ball security.
His fumble last Thursday night led to seven points for the Bears, and it was his fourth fumble this season, losing two. It’s an out-of-character lapse for a running back who fumbled in the first game of his rookie year and then went more than a calendar year before coughing up the ball again.
Lacy’s challenge now is to walk the line between protecting the football better while not letting that required mental focus detract from his production. The last thing he needs is to fall into another funk, and it doesn’t sound like he’s going to.
“You can always do better,” Lacy said on Monday following the Packers’ lone full-pads practice in preparation for Thursday’s game in Detroit. “I had the fumble. As a ball carrier, that’s what you don’t want, especially when it turns into points for the other team. It’s something that you have to put in the back of your mind, because you don’t want that to slow you down for the rest of the season.”
Lacy took just as much grief for an earlier gaffe, his casual flip of the ball as he crossed the goal line on a screen pass. Not aware of exactly where he was, he almost let go of the ball too soon and cost himself and the Packers a TD.
It’s been that type of season for Lacy, one during which nothing has been smooth and easy. Ball security is just the next issue he must overcome, but Lacy credited his easygoing personality – which can be mistakenly confused for a lack of care or intensity – with helping him push through by far the toughest of his three years as a pro.
“I think my season has been a bit of a roller-coaster. It’s starting to level out,” he said. “Me personally, I’ve been pretty even-keel through the whole thing. It just shows you that not every year, not every season is going to go the way that you want it to, but I think it’s all about how you respond to adversity.
“When I went to second string, I could have easily got mad or rebelled against their decision, and who knows how that would have affected me and the team?”
With 245 yards from scrimmage in the last two games (205 rushing, 40 receiving), Lacy’s resurgence will need to continue for the entire offense to get back on track. Calling himself QB Aaron Rodgers’ “sidekick,” Lacy said he’d like to take as much pressure off the passing game as possible, but he considers his recent success far more of a blessing than a burden.
“It’s a confidence booster for me,” he said. “It’s showing me that I’m capable of doing this, and I have to ride that momentum, week in and week out.”
Day in and day out, one thing that could be counted on at Packers’ practice was Julius Peppers’ presence. Watching drills in sweats and a jersey, Peppers sat out Monday for what is believed to be the first time in his two seasons in Green Bay, but it’s no cause for alarm. His non-participation is listed on the injury report as “not injury related.”
“They ruined his two-year streak,” defensive mate Clay Matthews said. “I don’t think that was Julius’ call. I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on that. He’ll be out there. We’re just making sure our workhorse is ready for us to get after the quarterback.”
Rookie cornerback Damarious Randall (knee) did practice and was listed as a full participant. Same for fellow defensive back Micah Hyde (hip) and receiver Jared Abbrederis (rib/chest), both of whom have missed time in recent weeks. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle) remained sidelined.
Tight end Andrew Quarless practiced for the first time since injuring his knee back in Week 3. Put on injured reserve with the designation to return, Quarless now begins a three-week window during which the Packers could activate him for game duty at any time.
How soon that may be remains to be seen.
“It’s a great feeling to get out there, get back with my team,” Quarless said. “Sometimes when you’re not playing, it’s like you’re outside looking in until you’re out there playing again.
“They definitely tell me to prepare as if I was playing, so that’s what I’m going to do. That’s how I’m approaching it. Whenever they’re ready to call my number, I’ll be ready.”
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