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Packers' Harris, Starks to lighten Eddie Lacy workload

With the news late last week that running back Johnathan Franklin suffered a career-ending neck injury, a crowded Green Bay Packers backfield was suddenly down a man.

Franklin's prognosis better explains why general manager Ted Thompson re-signed running back James Starks to a two-year contract this offseason.

Second-year stud Eddie Lacy will get the bulk of playing time in the Packers backfield and said he's ready for another 250 to 300 carries -- he had 284 as a rookie. However, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette the coaching staff would like to lessen Lacy's workload to keep him fresher down the stretch.

Franklin had been part of that plan, which now falls on Starks and DuJuan Harris.

"We haven't sat down and figured out an 'X' number of carries for Eddie," offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. "Eddie was a workhorse for us last year, and then when James got in there last year, he ran very hard. That was a great one-two punch. Now you factor in DuJuan and the other guys, it's going to be interesting to see how that plays out."

Of course, both Starks and Harris have injury concerns of their own after missing time in 2013: Harris suffered a season-ending knee injury in August, and Starks missed three games with a partially torn MCL.

Starks said Lacy is clearly the workhorse, but the rest of the backfield is ready to take some of the weight off.

"For him to be tired sometimes, I can come in and spell him," Starks said recently, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We don't have to put everything on his shoulders. He knows he's got people who can back him up."

There is no question that Lacy is the class of the backfield and should once again be near the top five in attempts this season. However, he did play through an ankle injury down the stretch last season, so any brief respite the Packers can give the bruising runner should be a boon when it comes time to make a playoff run.

In the latest episode of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys discuss Rob Gronkowski's expected return to action and Cordarrelle Patterson's potential rise this season.

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