Vikings give Pro Bowl respect to Packers rookie Eddie Lacy
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - The Minnesota Vikings haven't ranked below the Green Bay Packers in rushing yards per game since 2004.
That streak could end Sunday as the Packers hold a 69-yard lead over the Vikings heading into the final week of the season - due in large part to rookie running back Eddie Lacy, who finished fourth in the team's Pro Bowl votes sent in recently.
"Faced him a couple times, so we thought he was good," linebacker Chad Greenway said. "Obviously he's extremely physical, gave us some issues so he deserves that recognition from our side."
Vikings players couldn't vote for their own players, so Adrian Peterson was left off the team's ballot. Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles and Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch finished above Lacy in the Vikings' final Pro Bowl tally, per one Vikings staffer.
Lacy, 23, is currently eighth in the NFL with 1,112 rushing yards - but received more votes from Vikings players over the likes of Matt Forte and Frank Gore, who both have more yards. More than 200 of Lacy's yards came in two contests against the Vikings. The Alabama product averaged 3.8 yards per carry on 54 attempts and crossed the goal line twice as the Vikings went 0-1-1 in their annual border battle.
Lacy's rookie season is impressive, but doesn't stack up with even recent history.
Peterson ran for 1,341 yards in 14 games in 2007 as a rookie. Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris moved to third on the all-time, single-season rookie rushing list when he tallied 1,613 yards in his inaugural 2012 season. Rams legend Eric Dickerson holds the NFL record with 1,808 yards as a rookie in 1983.
But Lacy's impact helped revive a Packers running game that hadn't seen a 100-yard rusher in 43 regular season games before James Starks' 132-yard outing on Sept. 15. Lacy's four 100-yard games this season have the Packers with the seventh-ranked rushing attack in the league through Week 16.
"With having played [against the Packers] for a while now, you don't see that punishing of a running game to go with the mix of the passing game that they have," Greenway said. "Obviously he's a game changer for them."
The Pro Bowl announcements will be made Friday night at 8 p.m. CT.