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What a catch: Eddie Lacy displays 'Moss hands', Packers backs prep for 3-down duty

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GREEN BAY, Wis. - Eddie Lacy caught the ball and held on tight.

Not even Packers teammate Jordy Nelson could pry it loose after trying to sneak up from behind to force a fumble.

While Lacy — the Offensive Rookie of the Year — is getting paid to carry the ball in Green Bay, he is working on other elements of his game heading into his second year.

"The goal is just to be as good offensively as we can be, and if that's being able to add another option for the quarterback, that's what we have to do," Lacy said Thursday after practice.

The 5-foot-11, 230-pound Lacy pounded away at defences for a franchise rookie record 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns on 284 carries. He made it to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement for Minnesota's Adrian Peterson.

This week, Lacy is pictured on one of four covers for Sports Illustrated. The affable Lacy is taking the hype in stride.

"I just walked in and saw I was on the cover. I said, 'That's pretty cool," Lacy said.

He also took a little good-natured grief recently from quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

"Eddie has a self-appointed nickname of 'Moss.' As in Randy Moss," Rodgers said Saturday, referring to the former star receiver.

Lacy "thinks he's got incredible hands. His hands actually are very good and he's good catching the ball out of the backfield."

Since then, Lacy has been fielding questions about the nickname.

"Yeah, that's getting out of hand a little bit," Lacy said with a chuckle. The second-year pro said he would call himself "Moss" whenever "they randomly threw us a pass and I caught it. I'd say 'Moss' just joking. ... It's always an inside joke thing."

The larger goal, though, is to give the Packers a three-down threat in the backfield, especially when Rodgers is running a hurry-up offence. Having a back who can run, block and catch passes allows the team not to have to substitute by down or situation.

So there was Lacy standing off to the side catching short passes from a team assistant while the other backs were working on other drills. He smiled nearly the entire time, and laughed when Nelson tried to poke the ball away after his last reception.

Backups James Starks and DuJuan Harris have also been preparing for three-down work.

"If we can do that, you're going to see more opportunities for catching out of the backfield for all those guys. For James, and for Eddie and for DuJuan and whoever is in there," Rodgers said.

Add in fullback and fan favourite John Kuhn, and the Packers have the makings of a deep and potent backfield.

Lacy described himself as a "pretty good catcher" his entire career, including his three seasons in college at Alabama. He had 35 catches for 338 yards and two scores with the Crimson Tide.

But the first priority is to run the ball.

"We're not going to line up and feature Eddie in the passing game," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He still needs to be standing back there behind the quarterback getting the ball, running with his shoulders square."

Also happening on Thursday:

NICK OF TIME: LB Nick Perry debuted after missing the first four days of camp with lingering foot and knee injuries. The first-round draft pick in 2012 out of Southern California has been limited to 18 games, with just six sacks, after being converted from defensive end. Perry will be part of a pass-rushing rotation led by Clay Matthews and free agent acquisition Julius Peppers.

The Packers showed off a new wrinkle Thursday with Matthews, Peppers and Mike Neal — another pass rusher who returned from injury this week — on the field at the same time.

HIGHLIGHT PLAY: QB-turned-WR Alex Gillett found an opening behind CB Casey Hayward to catch a long pass near the sideline from Rodgers for a big gain. It was an important play for a player who may have a tough time making the roster after the Packers drafted three receivers this year.

IN AN OUT: Morgan Burnett watched practice after the starting safety suffered a minor ankle injury on Wednesday. Starting G T.J. Lang (shoulder) remained limited, but appears to be doing a little more at practice.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP

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