It’s not yet known if ankle surgery means the 2016 season is over for Eddie Lacy, but it does leave a hole in the Green Bay Packers roster that the team will have to be creative to try to fill.
The Packers place Lacy on injured reserve Thursday, but it is still possible that he could return before the end of the season. It’s a devastating blow for the running back, who was averaging a career-best 5.1 yards per carry after dedicating himself to a new workout program in the offseason.
With a contract expiring in March, it leaves the Packers in a difficult position of deciding whether or not to commit to the 26-year-old rusher, especially with long-standing concerns about his weight that resurfaced again in October.
That leaves the door open for other backs on the roster to step up and steal the spotlight from Lacy, although there isn’t much experience to work with. When the Packers play the Chicago Bears in a Week 7 game on Thursday night, undrafted rookie Don Jackson and converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery will be the team’s two options.
Jackson accounted for 15 touchdowns and more than 2,000 rushing yards in his final two seasons at Nevada, but didn’t impress enough to get drafted. He landed on the Packers roster, but never stood out and didn’t even make it to training camp before he was released and eventually brought back in September as a member of the practice squad.
Don Jackson didn't carry the ball once for the Packers in the preseason. Not one single carry. He may start tonight at RB.— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) October 20, 2016
The other option is Montgomery, a return specialist who has increasingly contributed as a receiver. He has eight career carries for 20 yards, including three rushing attempts last week against the Dallas Cowboys.
The more realistic fill in for Lacy is Knile Davis, a former Kansas City Chiefs running back acquired in a trade on Tuesday. He has experience stepping in for an injured starter, and made a name for himself in Kansas City as a replacement for Jamaal Charles due to injury.
In 50 games with the Chiefs, Davis has 233 rushing attempts for 775 yards with 11 touchdowns, but it’s unlikely that he’ll see many snaps Thursday — just two days after he was added to the roster.
Seven-year veteran James Starks has plenty of experience in the Packers offense but recently underwent knee surgery and isn’t expected to be ready to return for at least a few more weeks.