Lacy, Jackson headline NFL Week 2 Injuries, Freeman out in Tampa Bay?

NFL: Green Bay Packers-OTAIt’s been a dangerous day to be an NFL running back. Two prominent starting backs were forced out of action in Week 2, as both Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy and Atlanta’s Stephen Jackson headed to the locker room early.

Lacy was the fist to go out after he got drilled by Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather. Lacy suffered a concussion on his only carry of the game – a 10-yard run – when he jumped over a defender and was hit by Meriweather on the way down.

The rookie was taken back to the locker room and wouldn’t return, giving way to backups John Starks and Jonathan Franklin. This is no doubt a rough start to the season for the University of Alabama product, who was projected as Green Bay’s feature back. Lacy gained just 41 yards on 14 carries last week and had a fumble. And this week saw him knocked out on his first carry.

stephen-jackson-falconsJackson is off to a much better start than Lacy since he gained 122 yards from scrimmage last week. Unfortunately, his momentum will take a big hit since he suffered a thigh injury earlier today. The veteran was hurt on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Falcons QB Matt Ryan in the first half. Jackson left for the locker room immediately after scoring his first TD with Atlanta.

Moving away from injuries, Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman may be seeking a trade. Trouble has been brewing in Tampa after teammates essentially stripped Freeman of his captain status through a vote. Things got worse when he missed the team photo shoot, later admitting that he overslept.

It doesn’t help Freeman’s case that he’s been pretty inconsistent since being drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. In his four years with Tampa, the K-State product has compiled 13,173 yards, 79 TD’s and 64 INT’s. These are certainly good numbers, but they haven’t translated into a lot of victories for the Bucs. And Freeman has never really been regarded as a clutch player.

josh-freeman-tampa-bayTaking all of this into account, Tampa Bay took quarterback Mike Glennon in the third round of last year’s draft. Insiders claim that Glennon is head coach Greg Schiano’s guy, while Freeman is merely finishing out the last year of his contract.

All of this makes the five-year veteran seem expendable on a team that’s looking for a leader under center. If Tampa Bay’s season starts off badly, it’s very possible that Freeman could be shipped out before the October 29th trade deadline. Potential suitors could include the Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans, who all have question marks at the quarterback position.

Green Bay Packers: Once Again Loaded with Offensive Talent

aaron-rodgers-bet-3In recent years, the Green Bay Packers have easily been one of the NFL’s most talented offensive teams. They’ve boasted a number of offensive stars, including Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jermichael Finley, Ryan Grant, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb.

These players have helped boost the Packers to a 47-17 mark and a Super Bowl trophy over the past four seasons. But as great as Green Bay has been in the past, they might feature far more offensive talent going into the 2013-14 season.

This is especially the case at the running back position, where they now have a rookie duo that can carry the workload. Alabama product Eddie Lacy looks to be the starter and primary ball-carrier for Green Bay. He’s already shown NFL-caliber speed and physicality after rushing for 40 yards on eight carries in his preseason debut. In the best case scenario, he could return the Packers’ backfield to the prominence it saw in 2009, when Grant carried the ball. At worst, he’ll do far better than last year’s leading ballcarrier, Alex Green (464 yards).

eddie-lacyFourth-rounder Jonathan Franklin is the other rookie who should be seeing plenty of snaps. The UCLA product wasn’t drafted as somebody to compete with Lacy, but rather compliment him. Franklin is a proven talent, having run for 1,700 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior. Other players who’ll be fighting for time include veterans James Starks, DuJuan Harris and Green.

Of course the quarterback position will be Green Bay’s strength this season. Aaron Rodgers’ receiving corp may have changed with the departures of Jennings and Driver, but it never seems to matter who he’s throwing the ball to. Last season he put up 4,295 passing yards, 39 touchdowns, 8 interceptions and a 67.2% completion rate. Fans should expect similar numbers from him this year, despite the new faces that he’ll be targeting.

Randal Cobb seems destined to star this year after catching 80 passes for 954 yards. One stat that doesn’t show up is the fact that Cobb caught 77% of the balls that were thrown to him. Don’t be surprised if the former Kentucky star records at least 1,200 receiving yards in the 2013-14 season.

jordy-nelsonJordy Nelson will be looking to return to his 2011 form, when he grabbed 15 touchdowns. Last year wasn’t quite as good since he pulled in just 47 catches for 745 yards and 7 touchdowns. But he also missed four games, and should put up big numbers if he can stay healthy.

While Nelson’s TD’s were down last season, James Jones picked up the slack by tallying 784 yards and 14 touchdowns. He should once again play a very big role in the offense.

As for the rest of wideouts, there’s be a lot of young talent fighting for the remaining three spots. Jeremy Ross, Kevin Dorsey, Jarrett Boykin, Myles White, Tyrone Walker and Charles Johnson will all be hoping to make the team. Johnson is noteworthy here because he runs a 4.35 forty-yard dash.

One guy who won’t be fighting for a roster spot is Jermichael Finley. The 26-year-old will again start at tight end for Green Bay and is hoping for more targets from Rodgers. He put up numbers of 61 catches, 667 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 2012.

As you can see, the Green Bay Packers have strong players at every offensive position. The key will be how well the veterans with the newcomers. Assuming the chemistry is good, there’s no reason to think that the Packers’ offense can’t carry them to the Super Bowl.