The Green Bay Packers struggled in the running game this year as carries were split this season between RB's James Starks and Ryan Grant. With the possibility of Grant leaving this off season, is Starks ready to step up and be the go to guy in the Packers backfield? In preparation of the 2012-2013 season James Starks is approaching the off season as if he will be the feature back and has decided to train at IMG Academy football program Football Academy here in Bradenton, Florida.
The Green Bay Packers coming off a Super Bowl winning season last year in addition to compiling a 15-1 record during this year's regular season are definitely disappointed in coming up short with their loss to the Giants this postseason. Much of the Packers struggles on offense were with the run game, ranking 27th overall in the NFL. Starks had his breakthrough performance in the 2010 playoffs showing he has the ability to be a feature back if able to stay healthy. IMG Academy looks forward to having Starks come train under our multi-faceted program with elite level coaches like Loren Seagrave and Chris Weinke and innovative ways of training.
There's no doubt the Packers want more from Starks.
He plays with nastiness and runs with terrific power, but he still struggles in pass protection and catching the ball.
While Starks started just two games this season, he received a majority of the snaps before knee and ankle injuries took their toll.
Starks suffered a knee injury late in Green Bay's Week 11 win over Tampa Bay. He was able to carry the ball just four times the following week in Detroit, and then suffered an ankle injury against the New York Giants.
Starks sat out the following two games, aggravated the ankle again in the season finale against Chicago, then sat out the regular-season finale against Detroit.
After missing 11 games in 2010 with a hamstring injury - and sitting out the 2009 season at Buffalo after undergoing shoulder surgery - Starks still must prove he can stay healthy.
"I've seen more, learned more this year. I need to come back even better," said Starks, who finished as Green Bay's leading rusher with 578 yards.
Indeed. That's because Grant may not return and Alex Green faces a long road back from a torn ACL.
Grant, 29, came on late in the year and averaged 60.8 yards in the final four regular-season games.
Packer general manager Ted Thompson won't make a heavy investment in a running back Grant's age, though. So Grant will test free agency, and he is unlikely to return unless there's little interest on the open market.
"We'll see," Grant said. "I know I have a lot left. I think I showed that at the end of the year here. Would like to be back . . . but we'll just have to see."
Starks knows he has to approach the off-season like he'll be the lead back. Starks will train this off-season at IMG Academy football program in Bradenton, Fla., and then hopes to return for a breakout season.
"I just know that loss (to the Giants) is what's going to motivate me. 15-1 was great and all that, but this isn't how anyone wanted to leave here. So I'm just going to try and use this as a positive."