Green Bay Packers' James Stark: Impressive In Debut

Gregory BoulangerContributor IDecember 6, 2010

James Starks made his NFL debut against San Francisco and looked good.
James Starks made his NFL debut against San Francisco and looked good.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

For more Packers and Wisconsin sports coverage go to


Have the Packers found the solution to their problems running the football?

It’s too early to tell.

Is there at least some hope and excitement that James Starks is that solution?


In his first action in nearly two years, James Starks looked good running the ball 18 times for 73 yards against a 49ers defense that came in 8th in the league against the run.While these numbers (a 4.1 yard per carry outing) are not eye-popping, it was the way he ran that turned heads. For the first time since Ryan Grant went down with an ankle injury, the Packers have a decisive runner that runs downhill and gets positive yardage after first contact. “He falls forward and the bigger backs have that ability. And that’s the difference. That’s the difference between second-and-7 and second-and-4,” said Mike McCarthy after the game.

Also impressive was the workload that Starks carried.

The 18 carries was tied for the most any Packer runner has had all season and more than Brandon Jackson has had since week 1. This is especially remarkable for Starks, who sat out all of his senior season at the University of Buffalo and was forced to the PUP before training camp (missing preseason and the first 11 games of the season.

There were concerns that because of this time off, Starks would have problems holding onto the ball after receiving his first taste of NFL tacklers.

Starks said: “I was waiting for it, the first run, that’s why I just ran straight. I just wanted to get hit, just to see how it is. Test the NFL a little bit. You have to get the rust off. So, first carry, I tried to keep the ball high-and-tight and just hit the hole. After that I was ready to roll.”

It’s got to be a breath or fresh air for the Packer organization to have a big back (6-2, 218) that is physical and runs hard.

Looking forward, it would be hard to imagine the Packers not giving this rookie the lion’s share of the carries out of the backfield. Jackson only carried the ball four times for 13 yards. For the first time in a long time, the Packers may have reason to be excited about running the ball.


For more Packers and Wisconsin sports coverage go to