1) Introduction: When the Packers took James Starks in the sixth round of the 2010 draft, there was probably only a handful of fans who knew who he was. Yet after probing into the history of Starks, many fans became enamored with his untapped talent at running back. However, Starks’ inability to stay healthy was also a concern, and he missed his entire senior season at Buffalo with a shoulder injury.
Those injury worries were confirmed when Starks injured his hamstring before the season. He would spend the first six weeks on the PUP list and didn’t see any game action until Week 13.
James Darell ‘Buck’ Starks
Height: 6-1 Weight: 203 lbs
3) Expectations coming into the season for that player: Low, but also optimistic. With Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson ahead of him on the depth chart, Starks didn’t figure to see the field much in year one. Those expectations were further lowered when Starks hurt his hamstring in OTA’s and missed nearly all of training camp and the preseason. Before the injury however, many thought Starks could add a home run threat to the running back position and possibly contribute on kickoff returns.
4) Player’s highlights/lowlights: Starks didn’t see the field until the Packers’ Week 13 game against the 49ers, and he had a solid showing in his debut (73 yards on 18 carries). He than disappeared again for most of the regular season, contributing only 28 yards rushing and 15 yards receiving while being active in just two of the final four games.
Once the playoffs began, so did Starks’ breakout campaign. In the Wild Card, he rushed for a Packers rookie playoff record 123 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles. Starks’ 123 yards also marked the Packers highest individual rushing total of the season.
Two weeks later, Starks gave the Packers a 14-0 lead over the Bears with a lunging 4-yard touchdown run. He would finish the NFC Championship game with 74 yards against the NFL’s No. 2 rushing defense.
If there was low mark to Starks’ season however, it’d be his 8-yard rushing performance against the Lions in Week 14.
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Starks got a late start to the season because of a hamstring injury that kept him out of the preseason and the first 12 weeks. However, Starks typically made the most of his chances once he healed up. The 73 rushing yards in his debut helped the Packers get a big win over the 49ers, and it’s hard to say if the Packers would have won the Super Bowl without Starks in the backfield during the playoffs.
6) Player’s contributions during the six-win end-of-season run: After giving the Packers just 35 total yards against New York and Chicago to end the regular season, Starks exploded in the playoffs. He was Green Bay’s most important offensive weapon in the Wild Card, rushing for 123 yards on 27 carries in Philadelphia. The per carry numbers dipped against Atlanta (25 carries for 66 yards) and Chicago (22 for 74), but the threat of Starks in the running game helped open things up for Aaron Rodgers down the field.
In the Super Bowl, Starks appeared to have some early nerves hitting the hole, but he settled in and finished the game with 52 yards on 11 carries—respectable numbers against the NFL’s best rushing defense. Overall, Starks lead all rushers in the playoffs with 315 yards on the ground.
Season Report Card:
(C-) Level of expectations met during the season
(C-) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(B+) Contributions to team’s success during the playoff run (last 6 games)
Overall Grade for the year: C+——————
Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.
You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.Follow @zachkruse2