GREEN BAY – If James Starks does in fact play in Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day game at Detroit – and based on the Green Bay Packers second-year running back’s participation in practice Tuesday and how his right knee and ankle were feeling, that appears likely – then he says it’s because being bowlegged saved him from serious injury.
Starks went down with 3 minutes 1 second left in the Packers’ 35-26 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, when he was bent over backwards in a pileup with his legs pinned beneath a defender. He had to be helped off the field by the medical staff, unable to put much weight on his right leg.
But the injuries ended up not being as bad as they initially appeared, and Starks said after taking part in practice on a limited basis Tuesday that team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie told him it was in part because he is bowlegged.
“He thinks that played some part in it,” Starks said.
Starks also credited something else: Prayer. A deeply religious person, Starks said he, his mother and his pastors prayed for him after his injury
“At first I was a little scared, but after I prayed, everything was fine,” Starks said. “I feel a lot better than when it actually happened. I’m blessed that nothing happened out of the whole pile up. I prayed on it, I asked for a speedy recovery. I’ll be fine/
“I ran on it, I felt good today in practice, and it’s obviously going to take some time, but I’m getting better. (Missing extended time) wasn’t in God’s plan. So I’m here. I’ll be fine.”
Starks took part in individual and group drills and even got a few snaps in team drills Tuesday, according to coach Mike McCarthy.
“It’s always hard to evaluate a running back on a Tuesday. We’ll see how he does tomorrow,” McCarthy said. “It will be a medical decision if plays (or) if he doesn’t play. I just talked to him coming off the field, and he has 48 hours to get himself ready.”
Starks said he did have some pain in his knee and ankle, “but I can deal with pain. Running backs play with a lot of pain, so I can get through it. I just have to start tolerating it a little better. I feel good, though. I feel better.
Asked how being bowlegged helped him, Starks showed assembled reporters how his legs bend slightly outward when he stands at attention, then said, “If I was straight-legged and my knee (was hit), it probably would have torn something.”
Even though he now expects to play, Starks, who ran 11 times for 38 yards and caught six passes for 53 yards on Sunday, could see a reduced role against the Lions. That would mean more playing time for veteran Ryan Grant, who has seen limited carries but hasn’t complained about his reduced role.
“You adjust. You can't do the same thing because you can't bank on it. But you adjust,” said Grant, who has carried 73 times for 267 yards (3.7-yard average). “We've got a lot more wins, so that's easier from that adjustment level. But you just make sure that your mentality really is about maximizing, and make sure when you do get your shot you take advantage of it.
“It's not easy, but this game isn't easy, physically or mentally, regardless. If you play 50 snaps, it's not easy, so I don't think that makes it harder. I really don't. Because you don't really think about that until the end of the game.”
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