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Packers’ Lacy shows he’s tough as leather

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The Sports Xchange

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Feeling swell as a newly turned 25 year old, Eddie Lacy is already looking ahead to next season.

The powerful, productive and seemingly pounding-proof Green Bay Packers running back is driven to start a season strong for the first time in his young pro career.

“Toward the end of (last) season, I got to it,” Lacy said. “But, this year, I want to be able to do it from Game 1 to the last game.

“That’s when I can get to the secondary instead of trying to make a move or make a safety miss (a tackle). Just make them tackle me. Put the pressure on (the pursuing defender).”

Lacy, who celebrated his birthday Tuesday during the first of three straight organized team activities for the Packers this week, has been everything Green Bay expected from the former Alabama standout when it selected him in the second round of the 2013 draft.

Lacy topped 1,100 rushing yards in each of his first two seasons, rushed for 20 touchdowns, developed into a capable pass catcher out of the backfield and — perhaps most importantly — has missed only one game.

Belying all of his prolific numbers, however, has been Lacy’s slow starts in both seasons as a pro.

His rookie season didn’t take off until Week 5 after he managed only 51 yards in 15 carries before suffering a concussion that cost him a game ahead of Green Bay’s early open date in 2013.

Last season, Lacy gained no more than 48 yards on the ground in the Packers’ first four games, amassing all of 161 yards in 53 carries, before busting out with 105 yards and two touchdowns in their Week 5 rout of the Minnesota Vikings.

With well over 600 touches logged in NFL games thus far, coach Mike McCarthy is more mindful this spring about having Lacy as ready as ever come September.

Lacy’s work in OTAs has been scaled back on purpose.

“We’re not really pounding him this time of year,” McCarthy said. “As far as Eddie’s situation, (it’s) just to give him as much work as you can just to make sure he’s progressing and fine-tuning the details.

“We changed some things, like we do each and every year, offensively. There’s changes to the running-back position as far as their responsibilities, techniques, footwork and things like that — just making sure Eddie gets plenty of work at that.”

–Saying he’s much more at ease in his second offseason with the Packers, Julius Peppers might have fellow all-star outside linebacker Clay Matthews to thank.

Peppers, 35, who enters his 14th pro season, has been watching with great interest a greater involvement by Matthews on the inside in offseason workouts.

“He’s doing well at adjusting,” Peppers said. “He did it (the second half of) last year. Just having a whole offseason to try to get his feet on the ground and learn the playbook and not just being tossed in there midseason, I think he’s going to adapt to it and perform well.”

Peppers became reacquainted with Matthews lined up in the middle this week after the former was out because of an illness in OTAs last week.

With Matthews making an impact down the stretch by interchanging spots, Peppers completed a banner debut season with the Packers with seven sacks and two interceptions, both of which he returned for touchdowns.

Peppers has settled in this offseason.

“It’s a lot more comfortable, a lot, in all ways — (with the) playbook, relationship with my teammates and just familiarity with everybody around here,” Peppers said. “So, it’s a lot more comfortable this time around.”

–The Packers’ annual Family Night practice early in training camp is set for Aug. 8 at Lambeau Field.

The heavily attended outing features the team in a practice format with some live contact followed by a fireworks show.

Tickets are only $10 and go on sale June 22 at 10 a.m. CT.


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