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Starks should be the starting RB in 2012.
Even casual football observers should know that the Green Bay Packers are a pass-first offense. But when you have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers and receivers like Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, Randall Cobb, James Jones and Donald Driver, can you blame them?
Not really. However, as any person with knowledge of the NFL will tell you, running the football is still important. What is particularly paramount is being able to run the ball when you need to, at end of the game or on a fourth and one, when it matters most.
Generally, Green Bay has been pretty effective in those types of situations, mostly because fullback John Kuhn is a solid short-yardage runner. But overall, the Packer run game has struggled.
Last season, they ranked 27th in rushing yards and 26th in yards per attempt, the two most important statistical categories, measuring how well a team runs the ball. Though those numbers may be skewed due to Rodger's pass efficiency, there is undoubtedly a large room for improvement.
The only thing lacking however, is any kind of effort to improve the position through the draft or free agency. Ryan Grant, the team's leading rusher in 2011 with 559 yards, is still a free agent and it's unclear whether or not he will return. The only other option with any real experience is third-year player James Starks.
Starks, a former sixth-round pick out of Buffalo, is a big, powerful runner, who is decisive and when at his best, gets yards after contact. The biggest thing holding him back thus far, has been injuries, as he missed three games last season and 13 in 2010.
When on the field, Starks has flashed the ability to be a starting running back. During the Packers Super Bowl run, he started all four playoff games, carrying the ball 81 times for 315 yards and a touchdown. Last season, averaged 4.3 yards a carry on 133 attempts in a part-time role.
Yet, with the status of Grant unclear and no intent to add another veteran, it appears that whether he is ready or not, Starks is headed for the starting job. Placing their faith in him to stay healthy for 16 games is certainly a big risk by the Packers, considering Alex Green and Brandon Saine, the projected backups, have a combined 21 career rushing attempts between them.