Starks Provides Enviable Backfield

Starks (Jeremy Brevard - USA Today Sports)

James Starks, who agreed to a two-year deal on Monday after leading the NFL in yards per carry last season, joins Eddie Lacy, DuJuan Harris and Johnathan Franklin at running back.

James Starks will return to give the Green Bay Packers a formidable backfield.

After a scheduled meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday, Starks agreed to a two-year contract on Monday night, according to ESPN.com's Adam Schefter.

While it was Eddie Lacy who was the driving force behind Green Bay's offense during his Rookie of the Year season, it was Starks who led the NFL with 5.54 yards per carry. It was the best rate by a Packers runner since Eddie Lee Ivery averaged 5.58 in 1984. Only one other running back (Billy Grimes, 5.71 in 1950) topped Starks' average in franchise history.

Despite the limited opportunities, Starks tied for second in the league with three touchdown runs of 20-plus yards. — According to ProFootballFocus.com, Starks tied Adrian Peterson for third in the league with 3.0 yards after contact per carry. Six of his 89 carries went for 20-plus yards.

Starks, a sixth-round pick in 2010, emerged down the stretch as a rookie to help power the Packers to a Super Bowl championship. After playing in only 19 of a possible 32 regular-season games in 2011 and 2012, Starks stayed healthy for 13 games and rushed for 493 yards and three touchdowns.

"I thought James had his best year," said Alex Van Pelt, who served as the Packers' running backs coach the last two seasons. "I was very impressed with his running style. He hit the hole hard and fast. Where Eddie is a little bigger, slower going through the hole, James was a nice change-up because he was through the hole and into the second level before guys had time to react. I think that was crucial to his success this year. The durability, he missed some games early in the season, but he fought through that and came back earlier than expected. I was really proud of the way he played."

The Packers' backfield might be the envy of the NFL, with Lacy and Starks, DuJuan Harris and Johnathan Franklin. Fullback John Kuhn remains a free agent. He is talking with the Packers and other teams for his services, a source said.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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