Notes – packers’ james starks out with hip injury


Green Bay — Running back James Starks missed his second day of practice this week on Wednesday with a hip injury that he suffered against the San Diego Chargers, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

Starks, who usurped playing time from starter Eddie Lacy, carried the ball 10 times for 112 yards and scored two touchdowns in the victory. His injury surfaced in the following days.

“A lot of guys come out of the game with things,” McCarthy said. “It’s not James in particular.

… But you do have things that show up a day or two later.”

McCarthy said Starks remained in Green Bay throughout the bye week in order to receive treatment. He came to the facility every day and spent time with the trainers.

Though he was present Wednesday, Starks did not participate despite the pre-practice optimism of McCarthy, who hoped his tailback would be able to do more. Starks politely declined to comment in the locker room.

The questions about Starks’ health bring back into focus the lack of playing time for Lacy against the Chargers. Lacy, who suffered an ankle injury earlier in the season, carried the ball just four times for 3 yards and was a non-factor. After the game, McCarthy and other coaches said Lacy was banged up.

On Wednesday, McCarthy faced questions about Lacy’s weight.

“I mean, really, I’m not going to get into guys’ weights,” McCarthy said. “I mean, I’ve never been asked a question about a guy’s weight. But I think players do get bigger in their career. But he’s bigger than he was as a rookie.”

Estimated to be 240 pounds, Lacy is roughly 30 pounds heavier than he was as a freshman at Alabama. He weighed 231 pounds at the scouting combine in 2013.

Still, McCarthy said the former second-round pick moved well in practice this week.

“He looks good, just watching him work out and watching his work Monday,” McCarthy said. “Particularly in the individual stuff, that’s where you try to really stress each position, so I don’t think the injury is affecting him anymore.”

Meaningful stats: After a week of self-scouting to identify areas of strength and weakness within his team, McCarthy made a presentation to his players to share his findings.

And while he did not offer any insight during a news conference Wednesday, he explained that a portion of the meeting was spent discussing the importance — or lack thereof — of statistics.

“I went through a bunch of statistics — just basically top to bottom offense, defense, special teams — and I frankly finished the presentation just to remind them that statistics are for losers,” McCarthy said. “But more importantly what’s in the statistics.”

Offered with a touch of sarcasm, McCarthy’s comment was explained more clearly by linebacker Clay Matthews on Wednesday afternoon. Matthews said a key statistic the defensive players monitor is the difference between the passer rating of the opposing quarterback and the passer rating of Aaron Rodgers.

“We do a real good job of the differential between ours and what Aaron is able to do in not turning the ball over and scoring touchdowns,” Matthews said. “…That’s usually a pretty good indicator that you’ve got something good going.”

Based on that metric, the Packers have something great. Through six games, the defense has allowed an average passer rating of 73.4. Rodgers, meanwhile, has turned in an impressive 115.9 rating for a difference of plus-42.5.

It’s a mark far better than what Sunday’s opponent, the Denver Broncos, have compiled so far this season. Their defense, considered by some to be the best in the league, has held opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of just 69.6. But Peyton Manning, now 39 years old, has struggled on the opposite end with a rating of 72.5.

Their differential of plus-2.9 is remarkably small for an undefeated team.

No fear of heights: McCarthy has given thought to how the players will react to the high altitude in Denver and plans to fly the team out Friday, a day earlier than normal, in order to get them acclimated.

Some players aren’t sure what to expect.

“I think we’ll try to get a little light practice in out there just to kind of acclimate ourselves with the weather, with the altitude or whatever it may be,” Matthews said. “But this is my first time going on seven years now playing there. We’ll see how it goes.”

McCarthy wasn’t trying to make too big of a deal of the conditions. He said the biggest concern was quick energy depletion, but that preparations during the week would take care of that.

“We’re going to need a lot of carbs and drink more water,” McCarthy said.

Bye rules: The Packers are 8-1 after the bye under McCarthy, which is the best record in the NFL during that span, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Six of the nine games have been on the road, including the only loss, a 19-16 overtime loss to Tennessee in 2008. Among the victories was a 2007 overtime victory over the Broncos in 2007.

Asked why the Packers have had such success after the bye, Rodgers had a simple answer.

“Because Mike gives us the whole week off,” Rodgers said. “Of course.”

Injury report: Receiver Davante Adams (ankle), safety Morgan Burnett (calf), linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder/hand) and nose tackle B. J. Raji (groin) were limited participants in Wednesday’s practice. Receiver Ty Montgomery (ankle) did not practice. Linebacker Nate Palmer (chest) was a full participant.

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