Pack looks to get up to speed at start

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Ge­naro C. Ar­mas

GREEN BAY, WIS. >> Since ar­riv­ing in Green Bay, Chris­tine Michael hasn’t had much to do ex­cept for read up on the play­book.

The re­cently ac­quired run­ning back looks as if he’ll fi­nally get a chance to get a few car­ries on Monday night when the Pack­ers visit the Philadel­phia Ea­gles.

For the first time in weeks, Green Bay might have two ex­pe­ri­enced run­ning backs on the ros­ter in Michael and James Starks.

Es­tab­lish­ing the run might help the Pack­ers get off to the more pro­duc­tive starts that have eluded them the past two games.

“They’re teach­ing me the game plan ... and get­ting me ready to go,” said Michael, who was claimed off waivers from the Seat­tle Sea­hawks last week.

“Get­ting me in the game plan this week, a cou­ple runs here, play ac­tion. Keep­ing it sim­ple, but def­i­nitely try­ing to get my feet wet out there.”

Losers of four straight, the Pack­ers (4-6) have at least been able to get the pass­ing game go­ing the past few weeks.

Quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers has thrown 15 touch­down passes to three in­ter­cep­tions over the past five games.

But Green Bay has had to play catch-up in many of those games. A por­ous and in­jury-plagued sec­ondary has been a prob­lem espe­cially in back-to-back blowout losses to Ten­nessee and Washington.

The of­fense in those games has had slow starts, too. In six first-quar­ter pos­ses­sions com­bined over the past two losses, the Pack­ers have five three-and-outs and no points.

“Make more plays. This whole sit­u­a­tion, there’s not a spe­cial recipe,” re­ceiver Jordy Nel­son said. “You’ve just got to make the plays and ex­e­cute.”

A lit­tle bal­ance could help, too.

Starks re­turned two weeks ago from a knee in­jury that side­lined him for four games.

Re­ceiver Ty Mont­gomery has taken more snaps in the back­field, where he has had his mo­ments as a run­ner and pass catcher.

But the Pack­ers still don’t have a rush­ing touch­down from any­one other than Rodgers. Start­ing run­ning back Ed­die Lacy, who is out for the year with an an­kle in­jury, is still the Pack­ers’ lead­ing rusher with 360 yards on 71 car­ries de­spite play­ing in just five games.

“Well, it def­i­nitely changed a lot of the stuff that we like to do,” Rodgers said about the impact of los­ing Lacy.

“When you dou­ble that with James be­ing out for a few weeks, def­i­nitely took us out of some of the stuff we wanted to do to start the sea­son.”

At 5-foot-10, 220 pounds, Michael is a dif­fer­ent kind of back from the phys­i­cal Lacy. But Michael’s 469 yards rush­ing on 117 car­ries and six touch­downs with Seat­tle would lead the Pack­ers.

That is why Michael has been spend­ing most of his time catch­ing up on the play­book.

If Michael, Starks and Mont­gomery can start run­ning the ball ef­fec­tively early in games, that could help Green Bay set a tone while keep­ing the banged-up de­fense off the field to stay fresh.

On the team’s day off Monday, Michael came into Lam­beau Field and spent a cou­ple of hours cram­ming with po­si­tion coach Ben Sir­mans.

“Just ready to go man, I feel like it’s sim­ple,” Michael said. “It’s just foot­ball, you know what I mean? Just study it, give it my mind, just go out there and play.”

NOTES >> Coach Mike McCarthy an­nounced that Lacy and CB Sam Shields would stay on in­jured re­serve for the rest of the sea­son, with the Pack­ers plan­ning to ac­ti­vate CB Mak­in­ton Dor­leant from in­jured re­serve for the Ea­gles game. NFL teams can des­ig­nate one player to come off in­jured re­serve. The Pack­ers have been with­out their top cor­ner­backs in Shields (con­cus­sion) and Da­mar­i­ous Ran­dall (groin) for much of the sea­son. Quin­ten Rollins is com­ing back from a groin in­jury, and Demetri Good­son suf­fered a se­ri­ous knee in­jury last week against Washington . ... G T.J. Lang (an­kle) was “a long­shot” to play on Monday, McCarthy said. Lang missed the Red­skins game . ... LB Der­rick Matthews was signed to the prac­tice squad. Matthews was in Green Bay for part of train­ing camp, and also spent some time last sea­son on the Red­skins’ prac­tice squad.


Chris­tine Michael runs for Seat­tle against the Car­di­nals in Glen­dale, Ariz. The re­cently ac­quired back looks like he’ll fi­nally get a chance to take a few car­ries on Monday night when the Pack­ers visit the Ea­gles.


Green Bay back James Starks car­ries the ball against the Vik­ings in Min­neapo­lis. For the first time in weeks, Green Bay might have two ex­pe­ri­enced run­ning backs on the ros­ter in Chris­tine Michael and James Starks on Monday night against the Ea­gles.

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