DuJuan Harris Once Again a Forgotten Man.

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Packers RB DuJuan Harris will surely be back with the Pack in 2013.
Packers RB DuJuan Harris – Forgotten Man?

It was only a month before the NFL draft that Mike McCarthy was singing the praises of DuJuan Harris:

“Oh he’s going to play for us next season. That’s his responsibility if he wants to be the starter…  Once he got ready, I felt great about the way DuJuan finished the season. Looking forward to having him for an offseason and look for good things for him.”

March was a good month for Harris. You couldn’t go two clicks of the mouse without finding a feature on Harris. JSOnline did a feature piece on him and what he was doing to prepare this offseason. Our own Adam Czech posed the question, “Real Deal or Flavor of the Month?”

And then the draft happened.

The Packers added not one, but two dynamic running backs in the first four rounds of the draft. Before a down has been played, Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin are already being described as the “Thunder and Lightning” tandem the Packers haven’t seen since Hornung and Taylor.

Rob Reischel of JSOnline.com wrote a fine piece the other day titled, “There’s a Storm Brewing in Packers Backfield.” It was a well-written and informative piece, but I had one problem with it; there wasn’t even a mention of DuJuan Harris. He’s suddenly the Rodney Dangerfield of the Packers’ backfield.

You have to feel for DuJuan Harris. If you’re reading articles here, you surely know his story. Undrafted free agent, cut by the Jaguars, cut by the Steelers, gets a job selling cars, seemingly forgotten by the NFL. Then Ted Thompson calls. He lands on the Packers’ practice squad and about five weeks later is signed to their roster and was a surprise contributor in December and January.

I was a big fan of Harris’ running style; a quick-hitting no-nonsense runner; something the Packers haven’t had in a while. I can’t say I was confident he was the “real deal” three-down running back Mike McCarthy has professed his desire for, but at the same time, I was excited to see how he develops next season.

Well now what? Does he even get a fair shot?

It’s a bit ironic, actually, that I’m the guy writing this, as no one wanted Johnathan Franklin on this team more than I. I even predicted the Packers would take him in the second round (not expecting Lacy to be there, of course). Now the Packers have them both. While surely the handwriting is on the wall for James Starks and possibly even Alex Green, what of Harris?

My guess is that he’s shown enough that even if he can’t make this suddenly crowded at running back Packers’ roster, he won’t have to return to selling cars anytime soon. He’ll be playing somewhere next season.

And who knows, if the Packers give him a full opportunity, perhaps this suddenly forgotten man will surprise us all next training camp.

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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  • lmills

    That literally gave me goosebumps. I can’t wait to see how the backfield shakes out this year. And DuJuan Harris should have every chance to be that lead back. You can’t deny his running ability. Is he a 25 carries-a-game back? Maybe not. But he deserves to have the ball in his hands. I could see him and Lacy splitting carries because I don’t think Franklin will be trusted with the blitz pickups in his rookie year so I think Harris at a minimum will be our third down back…and hopefully more!!!

    • Dobber

      Franklin comes out of UCLA with a reputation for being good in pass pro and picking up blitzers despite his size (comparable to Harris).

      • lmills

        but doesn’t know the scheme yet

        • Brian

          Harris has a few months more in the system than both draft picks so it will be interesting to watch the competition

  • http://southcarolinapackerbackers(onfacebook) Barry Talbert

    I agree Al.I think he will be contributing quite a bit this year. I really look forward to seeing how far he progresses. Sad that he is all but forgotten by media.

    • Lucas

      I’m okay he’s forgotten by the media. We know, and MM knows. If opposing defenses forget, all the better.

  • Pack Fan in ATL

    I really liked what I saw from Harris last year and this highlight reel shows every reason. I really hope MM doesn’t just show a token run game just to have one but really uses all 3 backs as the weapons they could be to make this offense unstoppable. All I can remember is Harris leading Frank Gore in Rushing at Half time with a respectable YPC then only getting the ball less than 5 times in the 2nd half.

    • Tarynfor12

      Harris having more yds than Gore is moot.As for getting the ball less than 5 times in the 2nd half…Harris wasn’t going to do what Kaepernick was doing to us so…we needed to score as fast as the 49er’s were and running the ball with Harris or two of him wasn’t going to happen.Harris having 20 carries would not have changed the game…we couldn’t stop Kaepernick and that was the game..no matter how many more times Harris got the ball with the assumption that all his carries would have been successful.

      • Cheesehead4Ever

        Respectfully disagree, Taryn. We didn’t need to score as fast as the 49ers, we needed to have the ball on offense for more than 30 seconds so the defense got time to catch their breath. The only defensive problem in the first half was the pass rush breakdowns allowing Kaep to turn busted pass plays into positive yards. When the defense tired in the 2nd half from being out there 90% of the time, “Everything” broke down. Bad defensive execution – sure. Horrific mix of 2 runs/20 passes playcalling in 2nd half – YES.

        • Tarynfor12

          In order to have ‘pass rush’ breakdowns is to first have a pass rush.
          The tiring of the defense in the 2nd half was more from demoralization and bad execution/discipline and the Niners were more than willing to allow a couple of run plays but still played to keep the pass at bay even if the pass/run ration was better.

          Our run game was not going to save us that day and SF and Harbaugh knew it.

          IMO,it’s a very diluted thought to believe that Harris getting more carries was going to be more the cause for winning than Rodgers arm.

          If that is to be true,than with the drafting of two more RBs coupled with Harris,we should see at least a minimum of a 45/55 run pass ratio….good luck with that..unless our defense can get what is expected from Perry,Neal and now Datone Jones,the excuse of being ‘tired’ will be a weekly rant and what keeps the run/pass ratio far below what many feel necessary.

  • Wagszilla

    I think he should be your starting back for week 1.

    He showed great vision and cutback ability last year. Would have liked a little more power at times but hey, I’m not complaining.

    But it all comes down to protecting #12. If you can’t do that, I don’t want you out there.

    And I think MM would be wise to rest his featured back heading into the post-season. If the Packers secure home-field and/or the bye, the run game will become of paramount importance.

  • Razer

    Hey, his tryout was last year and he passed with flying colors. The two new guys have yet to take a snap, pick up a blitz or take a hit at the next level. I don’t think that Harris needs to worry as much as Alex Green and James Starks.

    Beyond the starter competition, I can’t see the Packers going with less than 3 backs. The annual RB attrition due to injury is fairly high in this league and even higher in Green Bay.

    • http://Kuhnin2013 Lou

      You nailed it, Green and Starks are the ones that need to worry. The rookies are a lock and Harris has earned a longer look. I know he is small but I can’t believe they would not give him a chance to replace Cobb as the return man, with his quick feet and lower body strength he deserves a chance. Alan Rossum was even smaller and less powerful and he was terrific for several years.

  • Chad Toporski

    A three-headed monster is scarier than a two-headed one. Definitely think there’s room for Harris on this team, and I also think he’ll get his chances to shine. It’s up to him how those chances pan out.

    • Brian

      Do you think using 3 backs could be too many in a game? The defense very quickly knows what tendencies the pack has depending on the back. Also, I would question whether a back can get into a rhythm if sharing time with 2 other backs?

      • Chad Toporski

        I think of it more as a long-term benefit over the season. You can keep guys fresh, ride the “hot hand,” and maybe even keep the opposition guessing as to which back you could feature going into the game.

      • Dobber

        I see all three of these guys as potentially being three-down backs. It’s my hope that the play-calling won’t become too predictable based on personnel.

      • Wagszilla

        The Saints’ 3RB system has helped to make them one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL.

        If one of the WRs or TEs (Graham) weren’t open, Brees could check it down to his RBs for usually big gainers or if not that, a crucial first down.

        But their defense is probably the worst in the NFL and they imploded because that juicy fruit chewing scumbag got suspended so people often forget about them.

        The Packers having 3 reliable RBs is perhaps the best thing you could ask for if you’re a fan hoping for another Lombardi before #12 hangs ‘em up.

        • Bearmeat

          I’m hoping for 2-4 more. :)

          If we don’t get 1 more it’ll be a huge disappointment.

  • Mojo

    Unless something weird happens, I don’t think Harris needs to worry about making the team. I think it will be him, Lacy, Franklin and Green. I even wonder if the Pack will carry a FB this year, which would open up another spot.

    I believe Harris plays ST so he has that going for him. He’s also cheap. I think they cut Starks because of his injury history. The only question with Harris is how many touches does he get a game considering the Pack will still be a pass first team.

    • Savage57

      Tough call on Starks vs. Green. With Starks you get better production, but he can’t stay on the field. Green’s never done anything, but he’s got that #3 pick status keeping him around, but even that only lasts so long.

      Or maybe, toss Starks and Green both to the curb and keep Kuhn for his blocking and versatility and use the 4th RB spot for an extra WR if any of the young bucks are worth keeping on the 53.

      But that’s Teddy makes what he does.

      • Oppy

        Green slightly out-produced Starks on a per carry basis last season in terms of yards.. Yet it was common for people to bemoan Green and laud Starks.

  • FireMMNow

    Dont be surprised if by week six dujuan is getting the majority of the carries. i like franklin but i think dujuan is better. time will tell. i hope it is a real competition in camp and lacy is not just handed to rock because of his draft status.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Love the run at 42 second mark best. Reads the blocking perfectly, makes a great decision and then is hell bent for the endzone.

      • Mojo

        Or at around the 1:05 mark, where it looks like there’s no openings in front of him so he takes a hard left and picks up good yardage.

        In reviewing these highlights, it appears Harris has an excellent ability to find a hole and then secondarily get to it, especially on cut-backs.

        Little dude is a good natural runner. Don’t know if he’s great at pass-pro, blocking in general, holding onto the ball or receiving, but the he’s got the running part down.

        I think he and Lacy will get the majority of the carries and Franklin will be eased in. Injuries as the season goes on will decide who ends up with the most carries, but I’m guessing Lacy would have to really screw up or get hurt to not be the featured back.

        Absent injuries, you have to wonder if the fourth back ( if there is one – Green perhaps?) would get any carries. He might be taken aback(pun intended) by those developments. Cruel how you can go from the alpha-RB to yesterdays news so quickly.

      • Lucas

        Beat me to it, Al. It was my favorite of the video as well. He shows excellent patience and once he’s at “the point”, bang…explosion through the hole.
        I’ve been back and forth in my own head about the run blocking of the team; that a great run blocking team can make any RB look good. I look at the video and I see movement by the line and a RB that is part of the whole. Our other RBs seem to act unnatural, only slightly aware of the job of the line, like they have different ideas of “the point of attack” and “pushing the point” as MM would say.

    • Stroh

      Don’t be surprised if by wk 6 Harris has pretty limited role on offense. You have to know the h draft picks, especially Lacy, will be given every opportunity to earn the majority of snaps.IMO only injury will prevent that.

      • FireMMNow

        yeah, i am expecting lacy to be knicked up all year. at alabama they send them out there. our medical staff recommends 6 weeks rehab for a hang nail.

      • http://zasilacze.webs.com/ Bisker

        Raduję się, iż tu przybyłem. Właśnie teraz ogarnąłem ten temat. Zaklinam się iż będę tu wracał. Samych sukcesów w prowadzeniu tej witryny.

  • Stroh

    I’d hardly say he’s forgotten just becuz an article hasn’t been written about him for a few weeks. Just other developments to discuss.

    Clearly this site will never allow anyone to forget a great backup RB like Harris!

    What about Terrell Manning haven’t had an article about in months rather than weeks! Imo he’s as likely to start as Harris.

  • Big T

    Harris is a stud, he isn’t going anywhere… Lacy with his injuries will have a very short NFL career. Letting Harris go would be silly.

  • Batavia Greg

    DuJuan Harris should remain a Packer. At least I hope that he does. The Packers will need him after the inevitable season-ending injury to Eddie Lacy.

  • Mojo

    One more thing about Harris. If you watch the highlights, notice how there seems to be a hole-open on almost every play. And I think the o-lineman would tell us fans that’s almost always the case. It takes a good runner to find it though. And it seems to be what Harris does best, that and get to it quickly. If I were an o-lineman, I’d love blocking for Harris.

    • Nopainnogain

      well, if there wasn’t a hole, the play would likely be a bust and it wouldn’t end up on a highlight video.

  • http://allgbp.com/category/authors/jason-perone/ Jason Perone

    This is a good reminder of what the Packers already have in Harris. . and then throw in the 2 rookies. Not sure how they will pan out in year 1 but it’s a good mystery to have.

  • Chad Lundberg

    The great thing is that we don’t even need any of these guys to be a 1,000 yard rusher, they just need to be efficient. Three backs carrying the load guarantees fresh legs at the start of every game, and we can now afford have a runner out for a while unlike 2010.

  • Alex Parkhurst

    Something tells me that with the addition of Lacy and Franklin, the offense is actually going to be different – so different, that all of us will be very surprised.

    You don’t draft these two guys and keep doing what you have been doing.

    TT and MM have something up their sleeve. Look at last 2 preseason games for clues.

  • J.

    He’s gonna be the Starter..mark my words!

    • John T

      I agree. He’s shown he can explode and pick up big chunks of yards against the toughest defenses in NFL. Lacy and Franklin had done neither. I believe that we will need all 4 guys because one of them is going to be injured when the season starts. Harris is going to shine.

  • JR

    I think it’ll be Lacy, Franklin, Harris and Green in the backfield this year. Perhaps Starks can crack this roster, and I’d say Kuhn’s days are numbered, considering his upcoming 2013 salary… And keep in mind, who knows if UDFA Ryan Roberson,FB, out of Texas or UDFA, Angelo Pease, RB, out of Kansas State show enough to impress the Packers brass to keep them? We’ll see…

  • Shavager

    I think drafting Lacy and Franklin is handwriting on the wall for both Starks and Alex Green. Don’t see either making the roster IF Packers get a good camp from Harris and the two rookies. Starks hasn’t played a full season yet and Green hasn’t shown he’s fully recovered from his ’11 knee injury. With the showing Harris put on in the last few games in ’12, he’s definitely a favorite for a roster spot if he maintains his level of play.

  • Oppy

    For all the talk some fans do of how poor the OL run blocks.. This highlight clip (in which everyone ooohhs and aaahhs over Harris) shows an awful lot of very, very good run blocking.

    In fact, the only plays that don’t illustrate fine run blocking are those that aren’t run plays.

  • http://MSN Mark

    The team got better where it needed to. “THE FRANCHISE” cannot have his face in the dirt 51 times a season. “Running game” is not 3 runs and punt in the second half while milking a lead. More balnaced offense will keep #12 healthy AND get the “D” much needed rest during the game.

    I would love to hear Capers talk about Lacy and Franklin.

    I would love to see our RBs gash the defense like Ahmad Bradshaw, et al, do to us.