Packers running back James Starks has missed out on opportunities to stake a claim to a spot in the backfield rotation because of turf toe and it doesn’t sound like he’ll be healthy enough to take advantage of them anytime soon.
“James Starks, just talking to the medical staff, is coming along slow,” coach Mike McCarthy said, via Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “So we’ll just continue to treat him. He hasn’t made a whole of progress here of late.”
Starks hasn’t practiced since suffering the injury in the team’s first preseason game, leaving him to watch as Cedric Benson arrived and moved right to the top of the depth chart of the position. The Packers have also been taking the wraps off of second-year player Alex Green as he gets further away from the torn ACL that spoiled his rookie season and both backs appear to be better fits for what the Pack wants out of the position this year than Starks did in his brief availability during camp.
That raises the question of what kind of future Starks has in Green Bay. The uncertainty regarding his health makes it hard to hold a roster spot for him if the Packers risk losing a player who can definitely contribute to the team in the early part of the season, especially if the Pack isn’t sure he’d be getting many reps when he’s healthy. Their other choices would be to put Starks on injured reserve or release him, both of which would leave them without his services when and if he gets well.
In theory, Starks would be an ideal candidate to take advantage of the proposed change to injured reserve which would have allowed a team to activate a player after eight weeks. The league and the NFLPA couldn’t agree to pass the rule because the league wanted to change the rules regarding padded practices in exchange for implementing the revised IR rule and a later trade deadline.
Without that option available, it looks like the Packers are going to have a tough choice to make about Starks in the coming days.