For three years, Eddie Lacy rammed into a crowded line of scrimmage. It was the norm. So not surprisingly, the 229-pound running back is licking his chops to join the Green Bay Packers' backfield.

Lacy believes he'll be the X-factor that finally makes Green Bay's opponents respect the run.

"I think that I can be that guy," Lacy said this week. "I feel that I can fit into the offense perfectly. They won't have to change anything. I'll be able to go in there and adapt to it. It'll keep defenses guessing."

And yet, nearly the entire league passed on Lacy twice. Two weeks ago, Lacy tripped all the way to the 61st overall pick. One reason was leaked afterward. Before his final year at Alabama, Lacy underwent surgery on the big toe of his right foot. For a bigger, mashing running back whose job is to inflict and absorb punishment, this was a red flag.

Only longevity - or a lack thereof - will ultimately prove who was right on draft day. But this week, both Lacy and his team doctor at Alabama insisted that the toe is not a problem. True, a small piece of bone in Lacy's big toe on his right foot was "fused." He did undergo turf toe surgery before his final season at Alabama. But it wasn't "toe fusion surgery" in the classic sense, his doctor said.

Lacy had surgery on his toe to prevent potential problems. Alabama's team doctor, E. Lyle Cain Jr., believes the window of legitimate concern - immediately after the surgery - has passed. And Lacy is not worried at all.

"I'm good until I basically can't run on it anymore," Lacy said. "It's nothing that I'm thinking about. I'm pretty sure I won't have any problems with it. It's holding up good. The surgery was basically perfect, and now it's about getting back to doing what I know how to do best."

For Lacy, this all began early in his sophomore season. From September on, he battled a turf toe, a sprain of the ligaments around the big toe that can affect an athlete's ability to push off the foot. Serving as Trent Richardson's sidekick, Lacy didn't miss a game. But he also didn't want the turf toe pain to linger through his football career. So after that 2011 season, he had surgery.

One of Cain's partners teamed with a doctor from the Steadman Hawkins Research Clinic in Vail, Colo., to perform the bone fusion. Unlike the typical toe fusion surgery - which hardens the big toe completely, thus limiting mobility - only the bone on the tip of Lacy's big toe was fused. He never needed the full, rocking-chair-like fusion doctors often use.

"The joint underneath the toenail was fused to allow the ligament to work better basically," Cain said. "It's something you do to give you a better push-off. His big toe moves just like a normal big toe in terms of motion. . . . If you fused it completely, it'd give you a stiff big toe and you can't push off and that's a big problem. In Eddie's case, he does not have that. His fusion does not affect his big-toe motion.

"The bottom line is, the fusion he had does not affect his big-toe motion."