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Mike McCarthy: Eddie Lacy's Packers season is over

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Eddie Lacy's much-anticipated bounce-back season is officially over, leaving the rotund running back's Green Bay future up in the air.

At his Wednesday press conference, Packers coach Mike McCarthy ruled out the possibility of a 2016 return for Lacy as well as cornerback Sam Shields.

Lacy underwent ankle surgery late last month, shortly after the Packers placed him on injured reserve. Dealing with the after effects of a concussion, Shields has been sidelined since Week 2.

An immediate sensation as the 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Lacy's career has reached a crossroads at age 26. After ballooning to 260 pounds and losing his starting job in 2015, McCarthy made it clear last January that his power back "cannot play at the weight he played at."

Lacy took McCarthy's challenge seriously, emerging as one of the NFL's feel-good stories of the offseason as he underwent a "remarkable" redistribution of weight.

Through five games prior to the ankle injury, Lacy was averaging a career-high 5.07 yards per carry for a Packers team that started 3-2. Although he was breaking tackles and extending plays, his footwork had not returned to the preternaturally nimble form that sparked his success in 2013 and 2014. There were even whispers that the weight had returned by October, pushing him closer to the 260-pound range.

Whereas Lacy averaged nearly 40 receptions in his first two seasons, he was an afterthought in the passing game early this year. In other words, the coaches no longer viewed him as a three-down back capable of excelling in any situation.

Lacy is due to reach free agency in March after leaving Green Bay's backfield shorthanded for two straight seasons.

At this point, it's fair to wonder if the Packers will make running back a priority in 2017, seeking a more reliable lead horse.

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