Green Bay Packers 2012: Rankings the Options at Running Back
Despite how productive the Packers offense was, they still struggled running the ball last season. They ranked 27th in the NFL as a team with 97.4 yards per game. Clearly, the offense managed to do just fine with that running. However, in the few times the Packers needed the run game to step up, the passing game was slowed down and the running backs never could quite pick up the slack.
The Green Bay Packers would very much like to get their running game going, which will greatly improve their chances at another Super Bowl run.
5. Brandon Saine
Brandon Saine showed promise last year as a potential third down back in the Packers spread out passing attack. Unfortunately for him, that hasn't quite stuck. Saine has dealt with injuries this pre-season and is on the bubble to make the final roster, all depending on how many running backs the Packers want to keep.
Bottom Line—Brandon Saine will either not make the team, end up on the P.U.P. list or IR, or he will be buried on the depth chart for most of the season barring other injuries.
4. John Kuhn
Veteran John Kuhn is the only full back on the Packers roster. However, a lot of his action comes when he is lined up at running back. Kuhn is a short yardage machine. He may not have elite speed or quickness, but he makes up for it by being the guy who can run through tackles and get a couple of yards out of any run.
In each of his last two seasons with the Packers, John Kuhn has notched six total touch downs and converted on many crucial short yardage situations.
Despite his success, John Kuhn's role is decreasing with the Packers as they become more and more of a spread out passing team. They will likely line up with only one back behind Aaron Rodgers in their base formations, so Kuhn will likely be even more of a change-of-pace player this season.
3. James Starks
The starting running back when the Green Bay Packers won it all two years ago was James Starks, who has shown that he has a very high ceiling. In fact, if he can stay healthy, he could be the team's back of the future. However, the problem is he has shown very little reason to suggest that he can stay healthy for a whole season.
Last year, Starks missed three games due to injury and was limited in quite a few others, all while splitting carries with since-released Ryan Grant. If that were it, it would not be that big of a deal. Unfortunately, James Starks' injury history dates back even further. He missed his entire Senior season at Buffalo with a shoulder injury, then followed it up by starting his rookie season on the P.U.P. list because of a hamstring injury. Now this preseason he suffered a toe injury and could miss the season opener.
James Starks could be a good back, but right his injuries are holding him back.
2. Alex Green
Another player with their own injury history, Alex Green probably has the most potential of any running back on the Packers roster. Despite tearing his ACL last season, Green has made a full recovery, although his carries will still be watched closely just to be safe.
Alex Green has what the other backs on the Packers do not—Dynamic speed and quickness. Not to mention he also has the size and strength that a player like Cedric Benson does.
The biggest advantage Green has, is that he fits perfectly into everything the Packers are trying to do with their offense. He fits the mold of a single back runner, but unlike Benson, he has great ability as a receiver out of the back field.
At worst, the team eases Alex Green Back very slowly and he eventually splits carries with Cedric Benson. Even in that scenario, he should still emerge as the teams primary third down back.
1. Cedric Benson
Cedric Benson may have caused his fair share of problems throughout his NFL career, but he could not be more welcomed on the Packers this season. Benson, 29, is coming off of three straight 1,000 yard rushing seasons and is by far the most experienced runner the team has now. He also should be a nice option as a goal line runner, something the Packers have at times given up on because of their struggles.
The Green Bay Packers signed Cedric Benson to about as cheap a contract as their is in the NFL for a veteran player. If he does well this season, the Packers will have a way of controlling the clock and forcing teams to take some of their attention away from Aaron Rodgers and company—a scary thought for the rest of the league. If he does poorly this season or gets injured, then they can move in without his contract holding them back at all.