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Packers still look to establish the run

Green Bay Packers running back Ty Montgomery (88) smiles during training camp at Ray Nitschke Field. (Jim Matthews-USA TODAY NETWORK)

The Sports Xchange

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has talked about establishing the running game throughout his first 11 years in Green Bay. For the most part, though, that’s been lip service.

Green Bay’s average finish in rushing offense under McCarthy has been 18th. And the Packers have finished in the top 10 in rushing offense just once since McCarthy took over in 2006 (seventh in 2013).

Traditionally, McCarthy talks a good game throughout the spring and summer. Then, when the season begins, McCarthy puts most of his eggs in the Aaron Rodgers basket.

McCarthy was back at it last week, preaching the importance of the running game.

“I’ll just say this, and I’m not joking: Running the football is A-No. 1 important in offensive football,” McCarthy said. “Now if we want to go back and evaluate last year, we had a segment of our season where we didn’t have a running back on our squad that played running back in training camp.

“So you have things that you go through it, because every game I’ve prepared to call in the National Football League, there’s a point in the game where I am determined, I want to run that damn ball. I mean you have to run the football. And by the way, we play in Green Bay, Wisconsin, so you don’t just start running it in November. But yeah, you have to run the football.”

Running the ball has never been of great importance for McCarthy’s teams. Instead, McCarthy — who had Brett Favre at quarterback his first two seasons and Rodgers the last nine — has relied far more heavily on the passing game.

And with Favre already in the Hall of Fame, and Rodgers heading there one day, who can blame McCarthy?

Green Bay has finished in the top 10 in total offense in nine of McCarthy’s 11 years, with an average rank of eighth. The Packers’ average ranking in passing offense is also No. 8, and they’ve finished in the top 10 in passing offense 10 of McCarthy’s 11 seasons.

Green Bay’s No. 1 running back this season figures to be Ty Montgomery, a converted wideout. Rookies Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones and Devante Mays are also fighting for playing time.

Montgomery carried the ball more than 10 times in just three of 16 games a year ago. So asking him to become the bell cow might not be realistic.

But for now, McCarthy insists that ground attacks will be as important as air strikes in Green Bay this season.

“Now with Aaron, we have the ability to have three-way plays or two-way plays, you know two runs and a pass, and run with two,” McCarthy said. “So you do have options and things like that and he’s an excellent decision-maker so he keeps you in the best play available - “BPA” for your column, best play available.

“So we do have runs that get called, but they may not get run. So you have to run the football because if you don’t, a lot of negative things come out of that.”

Packers Player Watch

  • Rookie DT Montravius Adams will miss “multiple weeks” with a foot injury, according to head coach Mike McCarthy. Adams, a third round draft pick in April, worked in two non-padded practices last, then dropped out of camp. Adams is not eligible for the PUP list because he practiced two days.
  • Rookie S Josh Jones has been one of the early stars of camp. Jones came into the NFL with a reputation as a punishing hitter and he’s more than lived up to that in the Packers’ early practices.
  • WR Randall Cobb — who is in the third year of a four-year, $40 million contract — could wind up as Green Bay’s No. 1 punt returner.