It's been a whirlwind season for Packers rookie rusher Eddie Lacy. After a toe injury convinced some teams to drop him off their draft boards, Lacy outran and outperformed every running back in his class. As a result, Lacy earned second-team All-Pro honors, a Pro Bowl selection, and has been named one of five finalists for the Pepsi NEXT Rookie of the Year award.
Lacy sat down with Acme Packing Company to discuss his first year in the NFL and what he expects to accomplish going forward.
APC: Many consider you the frontrunner for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. How do you feel about your first year in the NFL and what does consideration for a league-wide award mean to you?
Being up for this award definitely means a lot to me. You know, on an individual basis, I wasn't able to get a lot of awards just for myself. There were a lot of team awards or things like that. I was part of quite a few of those. But just to be able to be recognized for my individual talent within the team, it would mean a lot to win this.
APC: During your time at Alabama, you always shared the workload with another running back. However, in Green Bay you were used as the main ball carrier. How did you handle the increased workload?
To me it doesn't matter which way it is. I think the system that I was in in college definitely helped me out as far as going to the NFL because it took a lot of hits off of me because we rotated so much. I think that helped save some of the hits for when I got on this level. Being able to run the ball as often as I do on this level definitely showed that I'm able to continue to do such work.
APC: And do you have a preference as far as how much you're used as a ball carrier?
You know, it really doesn't matter to me. Definitely if you're able to get two and three backs in there it helps as far as longevity in the game and it's a changeup for the defense. So if you're able to use more than one back it definitely helps out the team.
APC: Many players endure growing pains during their rookie season. What was the hardest part of making the jump from college football to the NFL?
Adjusting to the speed of the game, becoming comfortable in the playbook, and knowing that it's not college anymore. You can't run one way and expect the defense to be out of position and then make another move. At this level everybody is exactly where they're supposed to be and most of the time even if they're not they're fast enough or small enough to be able to pick up that slack.
APC: Going into your second season, is there something you plan to do differently to help avoid injuries like the ones you dealt with in 2013?
You know, I'm definitely not jumping in the middle of the defense. If it's not jumping for a touchdown I'm not jumping anymore because that's how I got my concussion. Other than that, I plan to just do everything the same. I believe in "if it's not broke don't fix it." Just keep the same mindset. Just make your drive higher.
APC: Do you expect the Packers to utilize you the same way in 2014, or do you believe they might expand your role in the offense?
That's something I have no idea about. Pretty much I'm behind whatever they decide to do. I think it would be more of a balanced offense like how it was when we first started the season off. A balanced attack. But whatever it is, however they decide to use me, I'll be more than happy to play that role.
APC: Aaron Rodgers fractured his collarbone on November 4th against the Bears, forcing the Packers to play without him for roughly half the season. What was the hardest part of playing without your starting quarterback?
The hardest part was trying to run through the stacked box. It's easier in college, but at this level there's grown men out there. Some games were a lot rougher than others. I think it definitely helped me out a lot getting Aaron back this year. This upcoming season, the box won't be like that at all. I think that definitely will help out a lot.
APC: How do you feel you improved as a player over the course of your rookie season?
I got a lot more comfortable with myself. After a few games, I built that confidence up in my teammates for them to be able to trust me. I was just able to hit the ground running.
APC: There are a lot of players who are just beginning the draft process. What advice do you have for them as they prepare for the draft and the NFL?
Just pretty much be yourself. No matter what team you get picked up by, what round it's in, what draft pick it is, just go in there and do what they drafted you to do. You don't have to do more. You don't have to do less. Just stay focused. Don't get caught up in external factors. Just play the game that you love to play.
APC: What are your expectations for the Packers in 2014?
Definitely a playoff run. How far, I don't know. Of course, your main goal is to get to the Super Bowl. It'll definitely be a lot better than the season we just had with all the injuries and such.
We'd like to thank Eddie Lacy for taking the time to speak with us and Pepsi for setting up the interview. Fans can vote for Lacy in the Pepsi NEXT Rookie of the Year at NFL.com/Rookies. Voting closes January 28, so cast your vote soon.
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