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Railbird Central Podcast: Starks Signing Won't Necessarily Prevent Return of Kuhn

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Railbird Central Podcast: Starks Signing Won't Necessarily Prevent Return of Kuhn

Episode 376

Details of James Starks' contract were released, and we get into a discussion on the impact Starks may have on the Packers roster. Some have speculated that Starks' signing may signal the end of John Kuhn's run in Green Bay, but that's not necessarily the case. We also get into the report on the Packers' meeting with Michael Sam at Missouri's pro day workout.


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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (33) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

HankScorpio's picture

Guys like Kuhn filling out the bottom of the roster really help a team. He's smart, reliable and brings a skill--pass blocking--to the table.

Lacy has that same skill but he's not as accomplished as Kuhn. None of the other backs are worth a spit in pass blocking. When the Packers are in pure pass mode (like 2 minute offense), Kuhn is actually preferred over Lacy as the single back, IMO. At the very least, he's an option as the single back to cover injury or give Lacy a breather.

Jordan's picture

I think it's a catch-22 with Kuhn. Better pass blocking, but you lose a lot of speed with Kuhn.

I think the packers want a better weapon back there on third downs. Time will tell, but McCarthy talks about a "three down back back" frequently. So that's probably a hint that Kuhn is probably gone.

If you remember, San Fran had frank gore doing a lot of third down pass blocking. I think that would be the packers goal is to have a better weapon on third downs (and hopefully not sacrifice on picking up blitz).

I could be wrong, but I think gore was the one who blocked Jarrett bush on that back breaking play.

Brian Carriveau's picture

If McCarthy also "talks about" the value of John Kuhn, does that cancel things out?

Birney the baker's picture

McCarthy can talk all he wants, he's not the G.M. Ted makes the call on Kuhn and I say John Kuhn's days are over with. McCarthy talks a lot. It's always the quiet ones you need to watch out for. Teddy Tee is pretty quiet.

Jordan's picture

Ted Thompson controls the 53 man roster........McCarty controls the 46 man roster. TT does not tell MM who will be on 46.

But yeah, I think kuhns days over too.

Birney the baker's picture

So what does that have to do with Kuhn not making the 53 man roster? I understand MM sets the game day rosters. We're not on the same page here for some reason or I'm not understanding what you are getting at. Please clarify.

Jordan's picture

Yeah sorry tom, I got my pad level up way too high and it affected my reading comprehension. ;)
My bad.

Birney the baker's picture

pad Ok bud, no problem.

Jordan's picture

The packers offensive production in last 3 playoff games cancels Kuhn out. And his fumbles.

Why can't the packers have a 3 down back? A back that can run, catch, block? It's nothing profound. ;)

What's the sense in spreading the field if you can't have a back as a serious weapon on third down?

QB needs to throw the immediate check down and get first down instead of looking for bomb every play.

Birney the baker's picture

Lacy's talent has now surpassed whatever skill set Kuhn brings to the table that they can survive now without him. Kuhn is now older and it really makes less and less sense keeping him. Unfortunately like Driver, it's time for Kuhn to move on. They have their short yardage blockers in Mike Daniels and B.J. Raji. The only use I see of Kuhn is on special teams but you can find a younger cheaper guy to do that. Kuhn I don't see on this team this year unless he goes on Dancing With The Stars and wins it all.

RCPackerFan's picture

The signing of Starks made me ask this question. If Kuhn would be back.

I don't know for sure if he will be back or not.

I will say that he knows the offense better then everyone except for Rodgers. His best attribute is his pass blocking. Are those enough reasons to bring him back though?
That being said, McCarthy has said he wants Lacy to be a 3 down player next year. Is that his way of saying that he wants Lacy to take over Kuhn's role?

Starks isn't great as a pass blocker, but between Lacy, Franklin and Harris they should be able to fill in nicely for Kuhn.
Right now I'm thinking Kuhn won't be back.

HankScorpio's picture

"I will say that he knows the offense better then everyone except for Rodgers. His best attribute is his pass blocking. Are those enough reasons to bring him back though?"

If the ability to protect Rodgers isn't enough to merit so much as a roster spot, there is a disconnect in the wiring somewhere. Somehow, the obviousness that the Packers are a pass happy team with an elite QB that must be protected is not making it through to upstairs. Protecting the franchise every game is far more important that keeping a 4th RB who won't sniff making a difference except in injury emergency.

There's a reason any halfway decent QB is paid a king's ransom and RBs are finding the FA market to be icy. RB performance is affected so much by the blocking in front of him and the QB behind him. Keeping 4 guys that contribute very little in the primary attack method of the Packer offense is a really bad idea, IMO.

Birney the baker's picture

There's no disconnect Hank. Lacy, Starks, and Harris can pass protect and Lacy was pretty darn good for a rookie and will get much much better this year. Some of us feel Lacy can be their three down running back they've been searching for. If that's the case, Kuhn has no job. His job duties are only on special teams and maybe an occasional carry on a 3rd and one fake to Lacy and Kuhn gets the ball instead. Is that worth a roster spot? Like Driver was wasted a year simply because he won a dance contest, this year it's Kuhn that would be a waste if we kept him around. TT is so good and has so many good players that you don't want to get rid of say a Jerel Worthy for Kuhn. We all like the guy like we did Driver but his time has come.

HankScorpio's picture


You're way more sold on the ability of Harris and Starks to pass block than I am. I think Starks is bad. I haven't seen enough of Harris to say anything either way but his size would work against him. Franklin is even smaller than Harris.

Keeping all 3 at the expense of a guy that can be trusted completely to protect Rodgers is asking for trouble. Rodgers gets hit way too much as it stands.

Birney the baker's picture

I understand your reservations not having Kuhn around but Lacy will be that three down back McCarthy has been searching for. I do trust Starks and Harris. Both are much improved blockers. They'll both be fine. Franklin is the only guy I don't trust with a ten foot pole when it comes to pass blocking or holding on to the football if you want to get technical. If Kuhn stays than Franklin gets traded but I don't see them trading Franklin so I say Kuhn's days as a Packer are over with. They will draft or pick up a free agent full back though.

As far as trust goes, Rodgers will just have to "adjust and trust" someone else now. Lacy's a pretty good one you can depend on last time I checked.

HankScorpio's picture


I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on how well protected Rodgers is with Harris and Starks. I'm sure I'll never be persuaded that Harris is "much improved" until he gets off IR and actually plays a regular season game. That is, if he makes the team at all.

Or maybe it is just a disagreement on how important it is to protect Rodgers. Personally, my standard is above "fine" or "adequate", which are two words you have used in defense of the ability of the stable of backs sans Kuhn to protect Rodgers. I'm looking for "good", at least. "Excellent" is right at the top of my wish list to protect Rodgers. And protecting him is pretty darn near the top of the priorities on offense.

Birney the baker's picture

Hank, part of the reason I am less worried about losing Kuhn than you are is I anticipate the Packers will have their best offensive line since 2000. It all depends on health of course but the stars are lining up this year on offense. We'll have the best qb in the NFL, the best group of running backs in the NFL and one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. I really believe it's going to play out that way. We get a little worse at receiver and tight end but again, our running game will offset whatever worries you have about Kuhn pass blocking vs. trusting someone new like Lacy or Harris. They all know the offense now. None of these guys are rookies. I do value pass protection believe me but I always value roster spots and Kuhn can be replaced by Lacy. Lacy is a special player that can do it all including pass block. Don't worry, I won't fight with you or anyone else if we disagree. I just have a problem with Mr. Strohkinoff that goes back years.

Stroh's picture

This goes back a week. I've never heard or seen anything of you before then. I am Stroh/Strohman on EVERY packers site I've ever been on. Your obsession w/ me is beyond creepy.

Your a pathetic homophobe that just showed up in the past week or so.

HankScorpio's picture

I agree that the Packers o-line is shaping up very nicely. To me that is all the more reason to put Kuhn and a run game wrecking ball FB among the 5 RBs, while only keeping 3 runners.

If the o-line is opening holes in the run game, finding a 4th RB off the street should still result in run game production should a rash of injury force the Packers to use their 4th RB.

Basically, my point is that that passing game considerations outweigh running game considerations when it comes to the final roster spots on offense. On a team with Aaron Rodgers, that seems the most sensible approach to me.

Birney the baker's picture

Excellent points RC. I have no doubt Lacy is already a 3 down back if they choose to go that route. As you said Kuhn's best trait is as a pass blocker but Starks, Lacy, Harris are all knowledgeable enough now on the offense to do the job adequately. Their strength now isn't in their passing game but their running game. It crossed over when Rodgers got hurt.

Lacy can carry a team by himself just like Rodgers can and is not only a special player but he also appears to be a soon to be leader who plays with passion. People feed off of him and his physical play. He needs to be on the field as much as possible along with Rodgers obviously. That leaves Kuhn pretty much out of a job.

There simply isn't enough work for Kuhn to stay employed for the money they are paying him. Kuhn will be let go unfortunately. He was a great player though and will someday be in the Packers Hall of Fame. He's definitely deserving of that.

4thand1's picture

The best part about Starks is , he takes some of the load off of Lacy. We don't need him playing hurt and burning him out in a few years. He had a ton of carries last year . And if Lacy gets hurt Starks proved he can pound the rock when healthy. RB is set.

Jordan's picture

Yep. Excellent signing. Now on to S, ILB ,TE, and WR in draft. And maybe a fat guy.

Imma Fubared's picture

Lacy is solid. Harris, starks, Franklin and Kuehn if they bring him back means someone would have to go. Since they picked up Starks he's not leaving so it would be either Harris or Franklin if Kuhn came back.
My guess, the Pack have moved on from Kuhn and Franklin stays if he can be a special teamer and kick returner. Just my guess is all.

Stroh's picture

Lacy is solid? Come on man, he's A LOT more than solid! Peterson is almost done, Forte has another 2 years left. By the end of next year the Packers will have the best QB AND best RB in the division. Packers have won the past 3 NFCN titles and they have probably the next few practically locked up (barring another Rodgers season ending injury).

I see no reason whatsoever, they can't bring KUHN back for another year or 2 on a team friendly contract. He is by far the best blocking RB on the team not too mention one of the core ST players. Its not unusual for teams to carry 5 RB's. Kuhn still has his place on the team. Lacy is at least another year from being nearly as good a pass blocker as Kuhn is and none of the RB's other than him does anything on ST.

COW's picture

Cut Franklin.

TommyG's picture

You, I, and everyone else on this board knows that he isn't going anywhere until after his rookie contract is done.

4thand1's picture

Tommy , its just cow being his usual dickish self. He thinks every drafted player should be all pro right out of the gate. If they get injured they're a bust. If you don't make a deep playoff run or win the SB , the season is a complete failure. I guess when you're such a morbid loser like him, it sucks if things don't go your way. Kinda feel sorry for him. Aw , the hell I do.

COW's picture

There are 100s of "Franklins" in and on the fringes of the NFL.
If the Pack needs roster space (and Harris' knee checks out) Franklin is expendable... they could find a player of equal ability on the street any time during the season.

I don't think I'm being negative suggesting that Franklin is their least talented back.

I've seen him up close.
He's frail.
He'll never make it through a full season.
His speed/elusiveness are not extreme enough to offset his lack of strength/power/size.

He's basically this guy...

TommyG's picture

yup, 100's just like him. Unlike those other hundreds though, this one is under contract. TT will keep him through his rookie contract no matter what. We know this because we have all seen it happen (Harrell, et al). Kuhn isn't under contract, and we have four RB; Kuhn will most likely not be playing in GB next year.

I understand what you're saying about skill and durability. Truly, I do. But that just does not matter.

COW's picture

You're probably right.

HankScorpio's picture

"TT will keep him (Franklin) through his rookie contract no matter what."

Like TT did with Jerron McMillian?

Oops, not so much, I guess.

I'm pretty sure that Allen Barbre, Marviel Underwood and Corey Rodgers were other 4th rounders that didn't play out their rookie contract. Several draft picks have not so much as made the team in their rookie year.

Harrell was a 1st round pick that had injury issues. I do agree that TT held out hope for too long. I think it is fair to say that most people figured out Harrell was not durable enough to play in the NFL before TT did. But that's a far different situation than a 4th round pick.

Where you went off the beam is confusing an anecdote with data.

BTW..Harrell didn't play out his rookie deal either. But his rookie deal was 5 years, not 4.

Stroh's picture

McMillan never showed a single thing to make him worth keeping. I'm hardly Franklins biggest fan, however if you missed it he had 13 carries and 100 yds against a very good Cindy Defense. I would say that sealed his fate in GB for a few years. Only way he isn't in GB is if he forgets to hold onto the ball and fumbles every game.

HankScorpio's picture

Not to mention that Franklin brings a different style and skill set to the backfield. He's more shifty than the other 3 runners. He can return. We didn't get much of a chance to see it, but I think Franklin can be their best guy out of the backfield in the passing game. I think he's the only guy that has a chance of being more than a check-down/screen guy.

There may be 100s of guys like him. Personally, I think there are 100s of guys like lots of NFL RBs. The vast majority are far more dependent on blocking and scheme than their own running ability for their production. But Franklin is unique among the guys currently on the Packer roster. If being "more multiple" is a concern on offense (and it always has been), Franklin has a leg up for a roster spot on Harris and Starks, IMO.

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