[caption id="attachment_26353" align="aligncenter" width="393"] Mike McGinnis / Getty Images[/caption] The Green Bay Packers made an effort to run the ball in 2012, finishing with 433 attempts, placing them in the middle of the league. The problem was they weren't particularly effective at it, managing only 3.9 yards per carry, ranking them 22nd in the league -- not the worst, but certainly not enough to make teams worry about them on the ground. Their lead rusher, Alex Green, managed only 3.4 yards per carry on 135 attempts, James Starks only 3.6 and Cedric Benson -- who missed time with injury -- 3.5. None of these runners impressed during the regular season. The Packers' best performer on the ground was actually quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who averaged 4.8 yards on 54 carries. So it's no surprise that the Packers are placing an emphasis on the run during the offseason. Make no mistake, they need some balance on offence. The Packers had the 3rd best offence in 2011 (in total yards), the 9th best in 2010 and the 6th best in 2009. In 2012 their offence was rated 13th. The worst it has been in five years. Now, I know that the Packers' rushing offence during that period has never been better than 14th overall (in 2009), but they also had Greg Jennings in his prime, Donald Driver still making an impact and an Aaron Rodgers breaking out into the NFL. Which also isn't to say Rodgers is in decline, far from it, but it's clear that defenses are getting smarter about defending the pass, and teams are back to looking for some balance in their play calling. This is something the Packers know they need to have. The job actually started in the draft, when the Packers selected Alabama bruiser Eddie Lacy in Round 2 and UCLA runner Johnathan Franklin in Round 4. Both prospects have their strengths, and should each add something to the Packers offence. Eddie Lacy is a hard runner, and a typical every-down back. He has looked good in camp, running with power, and although he has been getting reps with the second team during OTAs is the early favorite to be the starting running back come the start of the 2013 season. Johnathan Franklin has been getting work as a punt returner in camp, and looks to fit a role as a third-down back. If the Packers are confident in his return ability it'll free up Randall Cobb so he can focus on being a receiver. Both prospects clearly know what they need to do to earn their place as starters this season. “I’m learning fairly well. If I can get everything down pat, I feel I will be able to play,” Lacy said after OTAs. Franklin was a little bit more reserved in his assessment of his time training, “My focus is on getting better each and every day. Things will fall into place,” he said. The Packers have to be pleased with what they have seen from both so far. This emphasis on the run in the draft is not out of the blue. In an NFL considered to be pass-happy, there may be a return to fundamental football, or at least offensive balance. The New England Patriots -- a team considered to be a heavy passing one -- actually had the second-most rushing attempts last season. The Denver Broncos under Peyton Manning had the ninth-most rushing attempts. Both were top five teams offensively. Teams see the value in a balanced attack. Sorry, let me be a little more assertive. Elite teams see the value of a balanced attack. It's not just the Packers who are looking to improve their ground game either. Coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints has already stated that he plans to run the ball more in 2013, the Saints under Drew Brees have always been a pass-heavy team. It might not be some grand return to old-school football -- Sorry, Rex. In fact that's a little absurd. But the Packers' acknowledgment that improvement running the ball is required for them to be successful rings true with last year's most successful teams. If they find solid production on the ground, whether it be from Lacy, Franklin or both, the Packers' offence will once again be one of the best in the league. So far, so good in Green Bay.