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Is James Starks Ready To Contribute For The Packers?

November 16, 2010
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The Green Bay Packers made the somewhat surprising move to activate rookie running back James Starks off of the Physically Unable to Perform list last week. Many observers figured that Starks was headed for injured reserve, and his wait to play live football would be put off for another season. Starks missed his entire senior season at Buffalo with a shoulder injury and injured his hamstring in a conditioning run prior to Packers’ training camp. On Monday, the 24-year-old Starks returned to make his first appearance on the practice field.

In a post-practice press conference, head coach Mike McCarthy not only defended his decision to activate Starks, but hinted that the rookie even has a shot at being activated to the 45-man game day roster in the near future.

“His look’s over,” McCarthy said on Monday. “He’s on the 53. He’s competing to play. I’m not ‘looking’ at him. He’s one of our 53. He needs to get ready to play, and that’s what all 53 players look for, an opportunity to compete during the week.”

Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee points out that it’s been 682 days since Starks has competed in an actual football game. When asked if he is ready to get on the field and play, Starks replied that he is just waiting for his opportunity.

“I’m kind of itching to get back out there,” Starks told reporters. “I want to feel like everybody in this locker room has been feeling, going out there playing in front of thousands of fans that love the Green Bay Packers. I want to feel that too. So every day, I’m out there practicing so I can get that opportunity.”

McCarthy pointed out that special teams is usually the “tie-breaker” to determine whether or not a player is suited up on Sundays. In other words, keep an eye on Packers’ practice, and once you see James Starks’ name get mentioned on special teams play, it’s likely that he’ll be activated.

Another area of concern for Starks will be pass protection. Having not played football in almost two years could leave him a bit rusty in his blitz pickup. You can be sure that the Packers coaching staff will not place Starks in the backfield to protect Aaron Rodgers until they are completely convinced that Starks will pick up oncoming blitzes.

The James Starks (practice) era has begun. Packers fans have been waiting to see what James Starks brings to the table since the Packers spent a sixth-round draft choice on him this past April. That wait could be coming to an end, and Packer nation may soon see what they have in a young running back that hasn’t seen the field in almost two years.

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