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— At 230 pounds, Packers running back Eddie Lacy is nearly as big as the Lions' linebackers.

In addition to running with power, the second-year back has the speed to break big runs, agility to make defenders miss and vision to find openings in the second level.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers receives the most attention, but after a rookie season in which Lacy ran for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns and won the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year award, the Lions will have to account for the bruising back Sunday at Ford Field.

"We've just got to get 11 hats to the ball whenever he has the ball," Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy said.

In the first two games, Lacy had 25 carries for 77 yards and five catches for 29 yards, though he missed the end of Week 1 due to a concussion. Like the Lions, who rank 28th in the NFL in rushing, the Packers will try to establish the run early Sunday.

"We'd like to get back to some of the stuff we had success with last year, getting Eddie more touches and giving him a chance to run between the tackles and run outside and use his ability," Rodgers said this week in a teleconference.

As well as Lacy played as a rookie, coach Mike McCarthy said he's already seen improvement from the young back, particularly as a receiver and a pass blocker. Lacy also had 257 receiving yards last year.

"Eddie is a better player today than he was when the season ended last year," McCarthy said on a teleconference.

Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said the defense will try to take away the Packers' running attack to make the offense one-dimensional. But with Rodgers, the Lions might prefer the Packers to have more success on the ground.

"I would say we'd rather them try to run the ball and take the ball out of Rodgers' hands, but you just have to go out there and play," linebacker Tahir Whitehead said.

And when the Lions play Sunday, technically-sound tackling will be the key to slowing Lacy.

Lions cornerback Darius Slay played Lacy twice in college when the two were in the Southeastern Conference, Slay at Mississippi State and Lacy at Alabama. Although Slay weighs just 192 pounds, he's not concerned about taking down the big back.

"Suh weighs more than me and I've banged Suh on his head before," Slay said with a smile. "It doesn't matter if anybody weighs more than me."

In 2013, Lacy had the third-highest rushing total — 99 yards — against the Lions, who ranked sixth the NFL allowing just 99.8 yards per game.

The Lions rarely stack the box with extra defenders, instead relying on their front four to create enough push to slow rushing attacks. It's worked thus far in 2014 as the Lions rank second in the NFL allowing just 57.5 yards per game on the ground.

"He's a tough runner, and in this league when you go against a running back that's a tough, downhill runner, you're going to have problems," Whitehead said.

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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