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Person of Interest: Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy

Green Bay's Eddie Lacy rushed for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns last season en route to winning the NFL's offensive rookie of the year award. (AP)


• Position: Workhorse, battering ram
• Height: 5-11
• Weight: 230
• Age: 24
• Experience: Second season

The storyline

Aaron Rodgers is the Packers’ leading man. He’s one of the two or three very best quarterbacks in the league along with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, but it was the introduction of running back Eddie Lacy last season that provided Green Bay’s offense with some much-needed balance.

When Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone at the beginning of November, it forced the Packers to look inward for offense.

“We had to find some different ways to move the football effectively,” Rodgers said, “and Eddie did a great job for us, giving us some balance and kind of tipping the scale the other way as we ran the ball at times more than we threw it. He did a great job for us.”

Better than that, actually. Lacy was a second-round pick out of Alabama, the fourth running back chosen in the 2013 draft, and he led all rookies with 1,178 yards in 2013. It was the first time in four years that a Green Bay player surpassed 1,000 yards rushing in a season, and more than that, it helped the Packers finish among the league’s top 10 in rushing yardage for the first time since 2004.

Has the introduction of a power runner changed the philosophy of Green Bay’s offense?

“I don’t know if he’s changed it,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s enhanced it, that’s for sure. We have a philosophy here that players need to make their biggest jump in their career from Year 1 to Year 2, and I think that Eddie will definitely fall in line with that.”

The statement

The Seahawks’ pass rush teed off on the Packers two years ago at CenturyLink Field, Seattle logging eight sacks in the first half alone. The key for Green Bay to finding headway on Thursday very well may come on the ground.

With Red Bryant now in Jacksonville, will Seattle be as stout against the run on first and second down? The Packers, and more specifically Lacy, are going to test that.

Rodgers may be the Packers’ most important player, but it’s Lacy whose performance might be the most pivotal and the most indicative of the outcome.

“He’s a hammer,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Lacy. “He’s a really good football player. All the stuff we saw in college, he could dominate games running tough and physically he has carried over to the league in what we’ve seen. We have a lot of respect for him. Good catcher, too. And you have to really wrap him up.

“It’s really calling for us to tackle well in this game.”