Ryan Grant has been OK this training camp. Not bad, not great. While he missed the opportunity at a long run against Arizona last week, zigging instead of zagging, the three-year starter still has averaged 4.5 yards per carry. His repaired ankle is fine and, as expected, he’s in tip-top shape.
But Grant’s pay cut may be telling us what we’re seeing in practice — James Starks is the superior back. To stick around, Grant had to take less. If Starks wants the top spot, he can earn it.
In snapshots, Starks has looked better this summer. He’s running with more decisiveness and more power. He has shown improved patience, hitting holes with explosion. With quick whistles, camp practices are tough gauges for running backs. But, when healthy, Starks has not disappointed.
For now, nobody has been named a starter. And as Mike McCarthy has repeated, the Packers (like nearly all NFL teams) will utilize multiple backs this season. But both Grant and Starks feed off of more carries. Someone will be the hot hand.
This echoes what our scout, Rick Tittsler, said after visiting the Packer training camp two weeks ago. Grant may get the first nod, but Mike McCarthy has never been afraid to ride the hot hand, and if that's Starks, then so be it. Starks' stock has been dropping, so it may be a good idea for fantasy owners to grab both players as insurance. One should emerge as a solid RB2/flex play.