He is 230 pounds and, in the lexicon of the NFL, a downhill runner.
Still, rookie running back Eddie Lacy’s signature move is his spin move.

So where did that come from?

“I honestly don’t know,” the second-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers said Friday. “It’s just natural. It just happens. I don’t know how to explain it.”

That’s because you can’t explain running instincts. Good backs have a natural feel for finding holes and eluding tacklers. Other backs may have size, speed or some other physical attribute, but if they don’t have instincts, they’ll never be anything more than ordinary.

The Packers are banking heavily on their belief that Lacy, the leading rusher for national champion Alabama last season, and Johnathan Franklin, a fourth-round pick and the career rushing leader at UCLA, are far more than ordinary. The cornerstones of their college offenses, they also are the cornerstones of a draft class designed to give quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the passing game much-needed relief.

That’s particularly encouraging because the Packers, after years of trying to get by on the cheap at the position, finally used significant resources to import two starting-caliber backs, two guys with proven production in college, two guys with natural running instincts.

“They brought us here for a reason,” Franklin said. “We have to contribute. we have to work hard at this. At running back or special teams, we’re going to make this team better.”

The best way they can make Green Bay better is by providing a physical rushing game, one that will force defenses to play the offense straight-up instead of dropping so many players into pass coverage. The Packers began their rookie minicamp Friday and, while you can’t tell much from one pads-free practice, Lacy and Franklin come with ball-carrying pedigrees that indicate they could be legitimate No. 1 backs in the NFL.

That’s a dramatic change from recent years, when the Packers tried to make do with ordinary backs as a complement to their passing attack. They’ve paid for it with a spotty running game ever since Ahman Green tore up his knee in the fifth game of the 2005 season. Indeed, the Packers haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since Ryan Grant in 2009 and they’ve gone 43 games without a runner hitting 100 yards.

In recent years, Green Bay tried hard to unearth developmental backs in the draft. Brandon Jackson was a second-round pick and DeShawn Wynn a seventh-rounder in 2007, James Starks was a sixth-round pick in 2010 and Alex Green was a third-rounder in 2011.



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