With Eddie Lacy sidelined in Week 3 due to a concussion and James Starks knocked out of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals with a knee injury, the Green Bay Packers were forced to rely on fourth-round rookie Johnathan Franklin to carry the ground game.
The end result was 103 rushing yards and a touchdown on only 13 carries. Franklin also added four receptions and 23 yards to put on a rather impressive display.
The big question, however, was whether his success was due to his play of Green Bay's offensive line. Today we'll break down three plays from Franklin to prove that the credit for his breakout game belongs to him and him alone.
3rd Quarter, 12:47 Remaining
Franklin's first two carries of the game went for five yards each, but it was his third run of the game that showed the potential that he can bring to the field.
On this third-down play, the Packers are lined up in the shotgun formation with Franklin to the right of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The play is a simple sweep to the right.
As Franklin gets the ball, the Bengals are defending the play perfectly. The Packers offensive line has failed to get to the second level on this play, and Cincinnati's linebackers have a clear shot at Franklin.
As Franklin gets to the outside, there is simply nowhere for him to run. It appears that the end result of this play is going to be a loss for the Packers.
However, Franklin displays his great instincts by cutting back towards the opposite side of the field in order to keep the play alive. Unfortunately, Bengals safety George Iloka reads the cutback perfectly and appears poised to keep Franklin from a big gain.
Instead of cutting all the way back, Franklin stops on a complete dime, turns upfield and picks up the first down.
It was this play that showed the type of playmaking and creativity that Franklin brings to the field.
3rd Quarter, 6:45 Remaining
This next run was Franklin's best and longest run of the game.
The Packers are once again in the shotgun, and the play is another sweep, except this time it's a run towards the left side of the field.
The Bengals once again defend the play perfectly and look poised to stop Franklin for a loss in the backfield. However, Franklin keeps his eyes upfield the entire play, looking for even the slightest lane to run through.
When Franklin makes his cutback, a huge lane opens up for Franklin to run through. It's here that he displays an impressive burst to get through the hole quickly before it closes.
After picking up the first down and not much more, Franklin is met by a Cincinnati defender. Instead of going down at first contact, Franklin easily breaks through an arm tackle to continue the play.
The end result was a 51-yard gain to put the Packers deep in Bengals territory.
3rd Quarter, 3:50 Remaining
The final play we'll look at was another impressive run that displayed qualities of Franklin's game that will make him successful in this league.
Much like the other plays we've looked at, the Packers line up in the shotgun formation.
The play is a quick pitch to the left. Franklin has poor blocking from his offensive line, and the play looks absolutely dead right from the start.
However, Franklin makes an extremely impressive cutback towards the middle of the field in an attempt to pick up extra yards.
When Franklin gets some open field in front of him, he is met by Iloka once again. Franklin sets his feet and makes a move to get by Iloka.
Franklin's juke is enough to get Iloka out of position so that the running back can break his arm tackle and pick up extra yards.
While this play only went for seven yards, it once again showed off great vision, instincts and open-field ability from Franklin.
As you can see in all these runs, it was't the offensive line for the Packers that resulted in Franklin's success in Week 3. Instead, it was his ability to make something out of nothing and consistently pick up positive yards on the ground.
It's unknown what type of role Franklin will have once Lacy and Starks return from injury. However, he's definitely shown that he can be a big factor in the offensive game plan when given the opportunity.
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