Eddie Lacy is considering doing here what most would consider unlikely. Or unrealistic for a visiting player -- especially one 250 or so pounds.
The former Packers running back is pondering doing the Lambeau Leap – as a Seahawk – should he score Sunday in what for him is a most unique season opener in Green Bay.
"Honestly, I’ve been thinking about that for the past two days," he said this week. "Part of me wants to -- but I don’t want to get pushed down."
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Lacy was held up in exaltation across Wisconsin in 2013 for his 1,100-yard rushing debut, when he was the Packers’ NFL offensive rookie of the year, and for a second consecutive 1,100-yard season the following year. He scored 20 touchdowns rushing and four more receiving in those first two seasons for Green Bay. So he had many chances to join in the Packers’ tradition of jumping from the edge of the end zone into the welcoming arms of cheering Cheeseheads in the first row of stands that are so close to the field at Lambeau.
But in 2015 Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy didn’t like how heavy Lacy was. He had far fewer chances to do the Lambeau Leap over his last two seasons with the Packers, with just five touchdowns total. Last season he got off to a great start, averaging more than 5 yards per carry – then had a season-ending ankle injury and surgery in October.
The Packers didn’t re-sign him after his rookie contract ended in January.
"Free agency is tough on each and every team," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday. "Ideally, if you look at our history, we like to try to sign our own guys.
"Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way."
Lacy signed a one-year, prove-it deal with Seattle in March. He
With metal screws, wires and a plate in his repaired ankle, Lacy’s first game for any team other than the Packers is against…the Packers. And he may get a large load. Thomas Rawls, the Seahawks’ lead back during training camp, hasn’t played since the preseason opener Aug. 13 because of a high-ankle sprain. The team lists as Rawls as questionable for Sunday.
Whether or not he leaps into the crowd, the Seahawks would just love for Lacy – and a couple others wearing white -- to be in the end zone Sunday. Seattle has lost seven consecutive times inside Lambeau. Its last win there was Mike Holmgren’s first season as the Seahawks coach in his return to Green Bay. That was in 1999.
Lacy admits he was tentative on his repaired ankle in the first two preseason games last month, but says in the last two exhibitions he established trust in it and his running again.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Lacy is ready for a full load Sunday. Asked if that meant 20 to 25 carries if need be, Carroll said: "Yes."
"He’s ready," the coach said. "He’s had a great run with us getting to this point. He’s done everything we have asked of him, for weeks and weeks now. He’s made every practice. He’s been able to do everything, and every rep that we have offered him. He’s conditioned well and he’s prepared to play.
"We’ve seen him for years. We know what kind of player he is, so he’s had enough glimpses of the look in preseason that you can see him get to rumbling with the football. We’re fired up about him playing, and he’s ready for a full load."
Lacy likes the sound of that—even if he hasn’t played in 11 months. He could about double his guaranteed base salary and signing bonus totaling $2,865,000 with game-day active-roster bonuses plus performance bonuses for surpassing 1,000 then 1,100 yards this season.
Of all the games the Seahawks should try to capitalize on the addition of Lacy this offseason, it’s this one against his former team.
"I will definitely take however many they are giving me," he said. "I haven’t played since October, but going through the first preseason games and getting a feel back for getting hit and reassuring myself that my ankle is perfectly fine, I feel like I’m equipped to do whatever I have to do."
He admits the ankle was on his mind this time last month.
"Preseason definitely helped out a lot," he said, "because in the first two games, I was real nervous about it. I didn’t know how I would respond.
"But I felt a lot better my last two games than the first two. I just have to keep it rolling."
Lacy is a rolling boulder the Seahawks didn’t have the last time they played the Packers, in December. And they could have used a huge, pounding back to control field position and take some of the burden off quarterback Russell Wilson behind a shaky offensive line. It’s still shaky for this rematch; on Sunday Seattle will start for blockers that are different from the lineup that ended last season. That includes Rees Odhiambo in his first career start at left tackle.
Seattle didn’t have much of anything 10 months ago in Green Bay, actually. Three-time All-Pro safety Earl Thomas was missing from the defense because of a broken leg from the previous week. Wilson threw a career-high five interceptions; he has thrown 10 in his last three games against Dom Capers’ Green Bay defense. The Packers romped 38-10. It remains Seattle’s most lopsided defeat since 2011.
Asked why Capers’ defense of changing looks and blitzing with linebackers Clay Matthews and Nick Perry from all angles has given him problems the last few years – remember, Wilson also threw four interceptions against the Packers in the NFC title game in January 2015, before hitting Jermaine Kearse for the winning score in overtime – Wilson was brief. And renewed
"Well, they make good plays," Wilson said.
"Those were the years before. I’m looking forward to this year."
And Lacy is looking forward to Sunday perhaps more than any other Seahawk. Yet he won’t admit to wanting to stick anything to the Packers who sent him away a few months ago.
"Anything to prove? No, no. I’m just going to go out there and play the game that I love to play," he said. "It just so happens that I’m on a different team playing against where I came from."
McCarthy had a similar Kumbaya theme talking about Lacy’s return this weekend.
"Well, number one, we have to recognize Eddie was an excellent, excellent player for us for three years there," the Packers’ coach said, "and it is unfortunate that you don’t get to continue on with your own guys and that is usually the way we go forward. He made a decision that he felt like he needed to make, so I just hope he is doing great off the field and we look forward to competing against him on Sunday. I have great respect for Eddie, as a player and he was a good teammate in his time here in Green Bay."
So, yes, maybe the Packers’ fans will welcome him into row one with, well, open arms.
If not, Lacy has a Plan B.
"I don’t know how the crowd would react to that. Maybe I could find like a small patch of Seahawks fans and do it there," he said, grinning.
"But I have thought about it."