Two weeks into the 2017 preseason, the Green Bay Packers are experiencing a spirited battle for the starting running back position. The running game is something that eluded the Pack during a 2016 regular season that saw no running back gained over 457 total yards from the line of scrimmage. In fact, All-Pro QB Aaron Rodgers led the team in rushing TDs with 4 and was the team’s second leading rusher. If Rodgers is going to get back to the business of throwing TD passes, he will need help in the backfield.
With the departure of former top draft choice Eddie Lacy, the Packers organization is now faced with the task of identifying a starting back from a roster of six running backs that have a combined total of three years of NFL experience. The fact the team has five rookie running backs vying for a spot on the roster is a clear indication Head Coach Winston Moss has much to digest during the preseason. The other two players with experience in the backfield are fullbacks Joe Kerridge and Aaron Ripkowski.
The most likely candidate for the starting position is Ty Montgomery. The young man is a third-year back out of Stanford University, drafted in the third round of the 2015 draft. In 2016, Montgomery was the leading rusher with 457 yards and 3 TDs. With only 77 carries on the season, he was able to accumulate an impressive 5.9 yards per carry. If he could sustain anything close to that number over an entire season, he would definitely become an impact player.
In the team”s preseason opener, a 24-9 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, all running backs saw action carrying the ball. The team was led by Brigham Young rookie Jamaal Williams with 4 carries and 14 yards. In the team’s second preseason game, a 21-17 win over the Washington Redskins, several players were given the opportunity to carry the ball a least a half-a-dozen times. They were led by un-drafted free agent Kalif Phillips out of Charlotte College. While Phillips is not expected to make the opening day roster, it’s a testament to how deep Coach Moss is having to dig to find that diamond in the rough.
On the depth chart, Montgomery still appears to be the favorite for the starting role with Williams slotted as his backup. Packers fans can expect the head coach to start taking a serious look at each of the available options over the last two preseason games before inking in the starter. Unfortunately, any injuries in the backfield would be disastrous with so little experience waiting for the opportunity to step in and help.
All indications are the team is satisfied to go into the season with Montgomery carrying a bulk of the workload. He has good hands, which makes him a decent target out of the backfield. There are also indications the team will be looking for trade opportunities or a chance to pick up someone who ends up being cut over the next two weeks.
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