Tag:James Starks
Posted on: February 1, 2011 10:01 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2011 10:02 pm

Underrated Starks in a good position (VIDEO)

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

ARLINGTON, Texas – It always seems like Packers rookie RB James Starks is the afterthought.

He was supposed to be drafted by the Bears – the team had actually called him and informed him of that – before GM Jerry Angelo changed his mind and went with Dan LeFevour instead.

He wasn’t supposed to make an impact for the Packers this season (and he didn’t until the very end of the year). On the depth chart at the beginning of the season, “I was dead last,” Starks said.

Hell, he didn’t even get his own podium today at Media Day, mingling on the Cowboys Stadium turf like he was a backup or a practice squad player when, in actuality, he very well could play a big role if Green Bay wins.

But all of that’s OK by Starks.

Ask him if he was upset with the Bears, and he says, “I was just happy they looked at me. That’s all you can ask for. It’s an opportunity. They looked at me, and if I wasn’t the right person for their team, then I wasn’t. But I’m living the dream now.”

So, Starks is humble and appreciative for his chance. He told me he knew an opportunity would arise at some point.

“I always imagined it, visualized it,” Starks said. “Each night, I prayed on it. I knew my time would come. Just be patient and things will work out.”

Still, pretty good timing for you to blow up, huh?

“Yeah, it was great timing for me,” he said with a big smile.

See more below in the video I shot of today’s festivities. And check out that big smile when I asked about his good timing. That’s a guy who’s happy to be in the present.

And make sure to check out our entire stock of Super Bowl coverage.

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Posted on: January 24, 2011 12:27 am
Edited on: January 24, 2011 3:00 pm

10 Super Bowl stories you'll get sick of hearing

Posted by Andy Benoit

Because the Super Bowl is outlandishly over-covered, offering readers 10 Super Bowl stories worth their attention seems redundant if not fruitless. With two weeks until, as your local furniture store calls it, The Big Game!!!, every possible Packers-Steelers storyline is about to be utterly exhausted. And then retold.

You can thank all the “casual fans” who suddenly get interested in the NFL this time of year for this. Somebody has to bring those people up to speed, which means somebody has to retell all the stories true football fans got sick of months ago. You best get used to it now.

Just so you can be on guard, here is an overview of the 10 Super Bowl storylines you’ll get sick of hearing between now and February 6 They’re ranked in order from overhyped to way overhyped, and they don’t even include the non-game related economic stories (you know the ones about how expensive the advertising spots cost, how magnificent the host venue, Cowboys Stadium, is, how bad the CBA talks are going or how many bags of chips are consumed by Americans on Super Bowl Sunday).

10. Wide receivers

The Packers and Steelers receiving units almost mirror one another. Both have a sage veteran (Donald Driver, Hines Ward). Both have a dynamic young big-play weapon (Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace). And both have dangerous but not entirely trD. Driver (US Presswire)usted backups (James Jones and Jordy Nelson; Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown). Here are the predictable cliff notes for the stories involving these guys:

Driver: tough childhood in Houston, first chance at a ring

Ward: borderline “dirty player” who is also proud of Korean heritage

Jennings: NOT a diva, but has still emerged as a No. 1

Wallace: averaging 93 yards per catch this season (or something like that)

Jones: talented but dropped balls; his quarterback trusts him

Nelson: talented but a few fumbles; his quarterback trusts him

Sanders: talented but untested; his quarterback trusts him

Brown: big catches late in games but still raw; his quarterback trusts him

9. Hometown Players

On every Super Bowl team, there are a few players who happen to be from the town in which the game is being played. Thus, you get the homecoming story. This story is only interesting to the dozens of their family and friends who will be in the stands watching on Sunday (because, you know, the player bought dozens of tickets for family and friends!), but that doesn’t stop hard-hitting journalists from writing about it. Or from focusing on how the odds were really stacked against the kid from (insert name of Texas town), as no one ever thought he’d be playing on football’s biggest stage.

So who will the hometown stars be this year? A quick search on PlayersFrom.com (a website that sorts all professional athletes by home state) reveals that the following Packer players were born in Texas: K Mason Crosby, TE Jermichael Finley, QB Matt Flynn, C Scott Wells, WR Donald Driver. The Steelers born in Texas are DE Ziggy Hood, P Daniel Sepulveda, OT Tony Hills, OT Jonathan Scott and NT Casey Hampton.

8. Overcoming adversity

Both teams will talk all week about how they have overcome a lot of adversity this season. Good for them. We can sort of believe the Packers when they trumpet adversity because they led the NFC in injuries (in terms of games missed by starters). But the Steelers? It will be tougher for them to play this card considering they’re littered with stars on defense and have the richest winning tradition in the NFL. But they’ll still find a way to play the adversity card (probably by making veiled references to Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension).

7. Tomlin
M. Tomlin (US Presswire)
You might not get sick of this story because it’s hard to get sick of this man, but you’re going to be hearing it plenty of times: Mike Tomlin is now the only coach in NFL history to reach the Super Bowl twice before the age of 40. He’s already the youngest head coach to hoist a Lombardi Trophy.

This probably won’t be that obnoxious of a storyline. After all, it will probably include plenty about the Steeler modus operandi (which is fascinating), plus Tomlin is about as real as they come. He knows how to give a quote that is just good enough. Which is to say he knows how to say just enough to keep reporters happy but not quite enough to galvanize his opponent.

6. The defensive coordinators

Dick LeBeau is the master behind Pittsburgh’s 3-4 scheme. Dom Capers is the master behind Green Bay’s 3-4. Both are innovative and perhaps deserving of the majority of credit for their team’s success. LeBeau’s recent Hall of Fame induction ruined the hard-hitting THIS MAN SHOULD BE IN CANTON! angle that most writers had for his story, so expect most of the attention to shift towards Capers and whether he deserves a shot at being a head coach for a non-expansion franchise.

There will be plenty of crossover angles here, too, given that Capers coordinated Pittsburgh's D before LeBeau, and both men are pioneers of many 3-4 zone blitz packages.

A dark horse sub storyline here: Kevin Greene, the Packers’ excellent linebackers coach, who was a long-time Steeler.

5. Hair

You just know some idiot is going to do an entertainment feature comparing Troy Polamalu to Clay Matthews.

4. James Starks

Every Super Bowl needs an unlikely breakout star. The Steelers will unofficially nominate sixth-round rookie wideout Antonio Brown for this role, but expect the media to flock to Green Bay’s sixth-round rookie running back James Starks. The Eddie George-like upright runner from Buffalo has rushed for 263 yards since being inserted into the starting lineup for the postseason. Starks is clearly the team’s most explosive runner, but he does not offer star traits. That doeJ. Harrison (US Presswire)sn’t mean the media can’t tell you he’s a burgeoning young star, though.

3. Illegal hits (James Harrison)

Non-football media outlets have been sitting on their stories about how dangerous the sport is for several months, waiting to release them Super Bowl week. Last year, TIME magazine got this ball rolling with its cover piece titled “The Problem with Football: How to Make It Safer”. With Harrison, the poster child for illegal hits, going up against Aaron Rodgers, who suffered two concussions during the regular season, expect another slew of important but boring as hell articles about brain trauma.

2. Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers’ meteoric rise this postseason has been even louder than Drew Brees’ last season. Thank the Brett Favre drama for setting the backdrop for the first-round pick’s career. From day one we’ve admired Rodgers’ class and poise. Since finally taking the field three years ago, we’ve also added arm strength, accuracy and athleticism to his list of admirable traits. Factor in the female celebrities this guy has been linked to (Gossip Girl’s Jessica Szohr, Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, ESPN’s Erin Andrews) and, oh yeah, his insanely impressive performance in five consecutive “must win” games for the Packers (which includes Sunday’s game at Chicago, where Rodgers was much better than his numbers suggest) and we have a first-class superstar on our hands.

1. Ben Roethlisberger

B. Roethlisberger (US Presswire)
As great as a quarterback’s coming out party is, it doesn’t compare to another quarterback’s redemption story. Why? Because a redemption story gives everyone a chance to rehash the drama. The only thing more interesting than Rodgers dating celebrities is Roethlisberger getting accused of mistreating college girls. Sorry, but sexual assault allegations are just too salacious for the media (and public) to ignore.

You know the background here: Nevada and Georgia, no charges filed, six game suspension reduced to four. The Super Bowl week storylines will center around whether Roethlisberger is a changed man and how jovial and humble he has become. The popular caveat will be something along the lines of “only time will tell if these changes stick”. At some point, someone will point out that Big Ben recently got engaged to Pennsylvania native Ashley Harlan. And if that isn’t proof that this one-time frat boy is settling down, what is?

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Posted on: January 16, 2011 1:20 pm

James Starks has no beef with Bears

Posted by Will Brinson

If things go exactly as Vegas -- and everyone outside of Pete Carroll, actually -- expects, the Packers will travel to play the Bears in the NFC Championship game.

This means James Starks, the sudden semi-savior of the Green Bay ground game, gets to play the team that spurned him in the 2010 draft. But just because Chicago said they were drafting him and then bailed doesn't mean Starks is angry.

"Things happen," Starks said Saturday night, via Chicago Breaking Sports. "I was excited when the Bears called, and then they said they weren't going to pick me up. Things happen for a reason. I wasn't heartbroken. It wasn't God's will. Now, I am here and I love Green Bay. I'm living life."

That's absolutely the diplomatic way to approach things, because it would pretty, pretty easy to point out how awesome Dan LeFevour's been (even though the Bears' issues aren't necessarily at running back anyway) for Chicago.

Starks clearly knows better -- if he takes a potshot at Chicago before a matchup's even scheduled, he's providing some silly bulletin-board material. Instead, the easier thing to do is just prove Green Bay was right on the field.

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Posted on: January 11, 2011 6:30 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2011 6:30 pm

James Starks shoulda/coulda been a Bear

J. Starks could have ended in Chicago instead of Green Bay (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

An interesting story here from the National Football Post’s Greg Gabriel about Packers RB James Starks and how he was almost – and perhaps should have been – a Bears RB instead.

Gabriel, the former Bears director of college scouting, tells how Chicago let him slip away during the 2010 Draft. Or better yet, how the Bears screwed up the pick.

The Bears didn’t necessarily need a RB because of Matt Forte and Chester Taylor, but the three scouts who had seen Starks had given him high marks. Since Starks was still available in the sixth round – mostly because he had been injured and because he had played at MAC school Buffalo – the discussion about whether Chicago should draft him intensified.

But the Bears also had Central Michigan QB Dan LeFevour rated highly as well. It was going to be tough for LeFevour to make the team, Gabriel reasoned, because the Bears were planning to carry only two QBs on the roster.

I’ll let Gabriel finish the story from here:

As we got closer to our pick, (Bears GM Jerry) Angelo made the decision for the Bears to draft Starks. When we drafted a player there was a protocol we followed. After the decision on who to draft was made, Cliff Stein (the Bears contract negotiator) would call the players agent and tell him we were planning on drafting his player. He would tell the agent that (he) wanted to get a 4-year contract with the player and wanted the contract done by a certain date. If the agent agreed then I would call the player and give him the news that the Bears were going to take him. This is exactly what happened with Starks. I was on the phone for a minute or so with Starks when Angelo walked in my office and told me he had changed his mind and was drafting LeFevour. I put Starks on hold and then said to Angelo that Stein had already talked to the agent and I had the player on the phone…we couldn’t do business like that. He said he was sorry but he decided he wanted LeFevour and the card had been turned in.

I then had to tell the player (a player that I had developed a good relationship with over the previous two years) that in fact we were not drafting him. Hearing a kid go from being extremely excited to silence was not easy. It was the most embarrassing moment I had experienced while scouting.

In my mind everything is about integrity and I felt our integrity had been damaged. We had told a player and his agent that we were going to draft him and then backed out of the deal. To make amends, we promised the agent that if Starks was still available in the 7th round we would draft him. Green Bay, though, took him about 10 picks later and the rest is history.

And the Packers, I’m sure, appreciate Angelo’s ultimate decision. As evidenced by his 127-yard performance vs. Philadelphia last Sunday and considering LeFevour didn’t make the Bears squads this season, the pick probably shouldn’t be considering a good one.

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Posted on: January 11, 2011 1:47 pm

Hot Routes 01.11.11: Polian, Caldwell not jiving?

Posted by Will Brinson

Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
  • Jim Caldwell called a really dumb timeout against the Jets. It might have cost his team a chance to continue advancing in the playoffs. But Bill Polian doesn't think so, and he called the timeout a "moot point" on his radio show Monday, according to Big Blue Shoe at Stampede Blue. More interesting though -- Polian offered a different reason for the timeout -- he said the defense was trying to get set. That's certainly more rational than Caldwell's "we wanted to make them snap the ball" excuse, but then Polian apparently went off on a tangent about how he thought the Colts were done after Antonio Cromartie's return, barring an interception, fumble or sack. Which, um, well, no -- Nick Folk needed a 50-plus-yard field goal to win before the deep ball to Braylon Edwards. So, yeah, this timeout thing's getting awkward.
  • Speaking of awkward head coaches, Wade Phillips thinks he's probably done as a head coach, because of "perception." Which is actually a good point, because Wade's 82-61 as a head coach, and yet people think he's a goof, mainly because of his 1-5 playoff record. Poor Wade.
Posted on: January 9, 2011 8:45 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2011 9:35 pm

Packers have (gasp) a running game (VIDEO)

J. Starks had a breakout game vs. Philadelphia (Getty).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

With their win vs. the Bears in Week 17, the Packers established themselves as the “non division winner nobody in the NFC wants to face in the playoffs.” Tonight, they showed you why.

Aaron Rodgers continued to establish himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league – if you had to pick between Rodgers, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning to lead your offense, that would be a tough choice at this point – and the Packers are tough on defense (Clay Matthews, Tramon Williams, Charles Woodson, et al).

But here’s the scariest part about Green Bay. The Packers now apparently have a running game. And with a running game, they very well might be the best team in the NFC.

Funny, they haven’t had one of those for most of the year. After Ryan Grant was lost in the season-opener, Packers fans have been subject to watching Brandon Jackson be rather mediocre and John Kuhn try to convert himself from a fullback into more of a tailback (Kuhn has been pretty decent, actually).

But with the emergence of rookie RB James Starks, the Packers become that much more dangerous, because they take less pressure off Rodgers and because they make the play-action pass that much more effective.

Here's Rodgers talking about his running game:

Against the Eagles, Starks carried 23 times for 127 yards, including a key first down late in the fourth quarter that kept Green Bay’s last drive alive for another three plays, and behind that performance, Rodgers threw for three touchdowns. And think about this: Starks only played THREE games in the regular season (he was on the physically unable to perform list for much of the year). Most notably, he had 18 carries for 73 yards in Week 13 vs. the 49ers, but then he only played once in the next three games.

After tonight, I doubt he will be absent again.

So why hasn’t he been playing lately? Well, there have been whispers about his practice habits. Not necessarily his work ethic, but about what he actually accomplishes while at practice.

"Keep in mind this is a young kid who is still continuing to grow and continuing to develop," Packers running backs coach Edgar Bennett told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week. "Each and every one of our backs, they have a role and when their number is called they'll jump in and respond. He certainly has all the capabilities of being (an every-down back). He's talented."

Yes, we saw that tonight.

And now the Falcons have to figure out a way to stop him. The last time these two squads faced off – in Week 12 with Atlanta needing a last-second field goal to pull out the victory – Green Bay’s running game was obsolete. Jackson carried the ball 10 times for 26 yards (actually, Rodgers led all rushers with 51 yards), and the Packers passing game was what led them to their near win.

Now, Green Bay has Starks, and he might just be the difference.

That's what the Eagles will tell you, anyway.

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Posted on: January 8, 2011 2:29 pm

Packers could have a secret weapon at RB

Posted by Andy Benoit

Everyone knows that the 2010 Green Bay Packers do not have a good rushing attack. Having lost 1,200-yard stalwart Ryan Grant in the season opener, Green Bay averaged just 100.4 yards per game on the ground this season, 24th best in the NFL. They were held to under 95 yards rushing in 10 contests this season.

A big part of the problem has been Grant’s replacement, Brandon Jackson. The fourth-year pro is a decent third-down back, but as a ballcarrier he lacks the explosiveness and instincts to consistently reach the second level in regular down-and-distance situations. Jackson has produced 3.7 yards per carry this season – aJ. Starks (US Presswire) low number that was also inflated by a few long runs.

He’s not solely to blame. Fullback John Kuhn has been a phenomenal runner – or pounder – in short-yardage situations, but he never did emerge as the NFC’s version of Peyton Hillis. Ditto backup fullback Dmitri Nance (not that anyone had high expectations for him).

But there’s one Packer runner who has turned some heads in 2010: James Starks. The sixth-round rookie made his NFL debut against the 49ers on December 5 and rushed for 73 yards. Starks clearly has more fluidity and quickness than any of Green Bay’s other backs, but is impressive debut did not lead to an increased role. Starks’ best game since December 5 came in Week 17, when he rushed for 20 yards on five carries and two catches for 15 yards against Chicago.

Mike McCarthy said publicly that Starks needed to improve his practice habits (Starks agreed). Many assumed this was a slight to the 24-year-old’s work ethic. Not so.

"He has a tremendous work ethic," Packers running backs coach Edgar Bennett told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "The kid comes in early and leaves late. It's not a question of work ethic, so let's nip that in the bud. It's just more the detail of it. It's a process, just like anything else."

In the postseason, coaches tend to take talent over principle. Don’t be surprised if McCarthy winds up making his most gifted runner the featured ballcarrier at Philadelphia this Sunday.

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