Mike McCarthy is feeling remorse about not playing rookie running back Johnathan Franklin more.
Mike McCarthy is feeling remorse about not playing rookie running back Johnathan Franklin more.

Mike McCarthy usually doesn’t go for the shock and awe.

But he surprised me with something he said on Wednesday. And no, it wasn’t his strong answer that his team has a sense of urgency or that Randall Cobb is off his Segway and has been seen in the weight room.

No, it’s that McCarthy still knows that he has three running backs on the roster.

Usually it’s this part of the NFL season where rookies are tested in terms of attrition and stamina. They’ve already played 16 games, adding in the four preseason games, and that’s more than Lacy ever played at Alabama even when he was busying winning championships.

“I don’t think Eddie’s hit the wall,” McCarthy said in his ho-hum fashion.

Which is fine, because Lacy has probably punished more defenders trying to tackle him as opposed to defenders doling out punishment on the 230-pound back. But, after giving his stamp of approval for Lacy, he then turns to his diplomatic side.

“If anything I’d like to get all three of those backs involved just because they’ve earned it,” said McCarthy.

I didn’t expect that. Lacy has been the proven featured back all year and now McCarthy wants more hands in the cookie jar? But then McCarthy goes and takes it a step further.

“But the guy I feel I’ve neglected is with opportunities is Johnathan Franklin,” he said. “I think when he was given his opportunity in Cincinnati he responded in a big way.”

The reason that’s so surprising is because the last time Franklin got any carries was way back on Oct. 20 when he tallied just two carries in a blowout win against Cleveland.

Franklin hasn’t proven himself capable of holding onto the football and his pass blocking — like most rookies — is suspect. But his burst is amazing and he put tire tracks all over the vaunted Bengals defense by racking up 103 rushing yards in the second half as he spelled the injured Lacy.

All McCarthy is looking for is a way to soften the defense as a way to get his battering ram named Eddie Lacy to do the damage. James Starks has proven capable as well, but how long can the coaching staff trust a guy that has perennially been injured?

“I feel comfortable with all three of those guys carrying the ball,” McCarthy said.

While that may not be a lie, the person he’s trusting to salt the game away in a tight situation is Lacy. There are too many question marks with Starks and Franklin to start flip-flopping now.

Especially when your scout team quarterback is starting for the second time in his career on Sunday.


Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn