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One of the more puzzling situations surrounding the Green Bay Packers this year is the recent handling of the team's running back situation. On Thursday, the Packers cut Alonzo Harris with no warning and demoted Eddie Lacy, who had just ripped off a pair of 100-yard games, to the backup role. He even sat behind third-stringer John Crockett, who was promoted to the active roster in Harris' place.
Then, on Friday, the team brought former second-round pick and Wisconsin Badger Montee Ball in for a workout.
On Friday evening, however, reports surfaced that shed some light on the situation. According to ESPN's Rob Demovsky, Lacy and Harris missed the team's curfew on Wednesday night in Detroit, which led to the disciplinary actions taken against them. Lacy, being a starter and third-year veteran, of course got a lighter punshiment than the undrafted rookie Harris.
James Starks, who started in Lacy's place on Thursday, has given the Packers' offense a spark through his play in the passing game. He has posted at least 30 receiving yards in each of the past five games, averaging over 50, and has four receptions or more in four of those five games. And although his yards-per-carry in that stretch is a dismal 3.04, the offense just looks like it flows better when Aaron Rodgers is getting Starks the ball in space. Meanwhile, Lacy averaged more than five yards per carry in his two big games prior to his demotion, but has been much less of a factor as a receiver.
Crockett, the undrafted rookie from North Dakota State, saw five carries for 22 yards on Thursday, and showed good change-of-direction ability while also being praised by the coaching staff for his hard work on the practice squad throughout the season.
The question now is what happens with this unit moving forward. It's hard to imagine Crockett overtaking either Starks or Lacy on the depth chart, but the split of snaps between the two veterans will be a tough one to predict for next week's game in Dallas and beyond. Our bet is that Mike McCarthy and company expand Lacy's snaps compared to the number he played in Detroit, but that Starks will continue to start and end up as the back with the most amount of playing time moving forward.