Green Bay Packers running back Don Jackson made his NFL debut last Thursday and it went about as well as we should have expected.
At least, based on history.
Jackson was in a tough spot to begin with, having been signed to the active roster from the practice squad just hours before Thursday night's game. Jackson ran twice for six yards before leaving the game with an injury after he got lit up on a short incomplete pass midway through the second quarter.
But if we looked to past debuts for Packers running backs, well, we should have known not to expect much.
Since 1999, only three times had a Green Bay running back reached double-digit carries in his NFL debut. Pro-football-reference.com lists 29 running backs who made their season debut since 1999 (the furthest that site can go back with game-by-game information). Of those, only 12 actually carried the ball in that game.
|Herbert Goodman||Sept. 10, 2000||Bills||1||-6||0|
|Najeh Davenport||Sept. 8, 2002||Falcons||2||8||0|
|Walter Williams||Nov. 21, 2004||Oilers||6||42||0|
|Samkon Gado||Oct. 30, 2005||Bengals||1||8||0|
|DeShawn Wynn||Sept. 9, 2007||Eagles||1||8||0|
|Brandon Jackson||Sept. 9, 2007||Eagles||15||40||0|
|Kregg Lumpkin||Sept. 14, 2008||Lions||1||19||0|
|Dimitri Nance||Sept. 19, 2010||Bills||2||6||0|
|James Starks||Dec. 5, 2010||49ers||18||73||0|
|Eddie Lacy||Sept. 8, 2013||49ers||14||41||1|
|Alonzo Harris||Sept. 28, 2015||Chiefs||2||17||0|
|John Crockett||Dec. 3, 2015||Lions||5||22||0|
|Don Jackson||Oct. 20, 2016||Bears||2||6||0|
-- Eddie Lacy has the only touchdown in an NFL debut since 1999. He scored on a 2-yard run midway through the fourth quarter against San Francisco to give Green Bay a 28-24 lead. However, the Packers would lose 34-28.
-- Of the 12 players listed above, Brandon Jackson had the most receptions in his debut, with four for 35 yards. Kregg Lumpkin had three for 22 yards.
-- Two running backs would catch a pass but not get a carry in their debut: Ryan Grant, who had one catch for 21 yards against the New York Giants on Sept. 16, 2007, and Brandon Miree, who had two catches for nine yards against Philadelphia on Oct. 2, 2006. Miree, listed as a fullback in his career, never had an NFL carry.
-- You might be saying, what about Jhonathan Franklin? Indeed, the first time Franklin carried the ball in an NFL game he busted out for 103 yards on 13 carries (he would gain only 4 more yards on six carries as his career was shortened due to injury), however that actually came in his third NFL game. Franklin appeared in two games during the 2013 season, not recording a stat, before his one big game.
-- Other Packers running backs since 1999 besides Grant, Miree and Franklin who did not receive a carry in their NFL debut: Tony Fisher (2002), Alex Green (2011), Korey Hall (2007), Michael Hill (2013), Vonta Leach (2004), Rondell Mealey (2001), Basil Mitchell (1999), De'Mond Parker (1999), P.J. Pope (2006), Aaron Ripkowski (2015), Brandon Saine (2011) and Matt Snider (1999).
-- Each of Green Bay's division-mates have had one 100-yard rusher by a running back making his NFL debut since 1999. Chicago -- Matt Forte (23 carries, 123 yards); Detroit -- Mike Leshoure (26 carries, 100 yards); Minnesota -- Adrian Peterson (19 carries, 103 yards).
-- Of all the running backs listed, only five topped 1,000 yards in their Packers career: Grant (4,143), Lacy (3,435), James Starks (2,403), Brandon Jackson (1,329) and Davenport (1,068).
Dave Heller is the author of the upcoming book Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth's Shadow as well as Facing Ted Williams Players from the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns