Category Archives: Cedric Benson

3

April

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Running Backs

Packers RB DuJuan Harris will surely be back with the Pack in 2013.

Packers RB DuJuan Harris will surely be back with the Pack in 2013.

As far as personnel, the Packers underwent more changes at running back than any other position. James Starks was the starter through training camp before the team signed Cedric Benson after the first preseason game. Injuries added up, allowing DuJuan Harris–a former used car salesman–to take over as the team’s feature back.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects;

DuJuan Harris (UDFA, Signed as FA in 2012)
Alex Green (3rd round, 2011)
James Starks (6th round, 2010)
Brandon Saine (UDFA, 2011)
John Kuhn (UDFA, Signed as FA in 2007)

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Harris: For the 2012 Packers, DuJuan Harris (5-9 208) was a huge blessing in a small package. After starter Cedric Benson was lost for the season with a Lisfranc injury, and reserves Alex Green and James Starks both battled injuries of their own, the team turned to Harris to be the lead back. Harris played in a total of six games last season and recorded a team-high four rushing touchdowns.

Green: After Cedric Benson was lost for the season while James Starks was already out of the lineup, Alex Green was the next man up. Green broke off a season-long run of 41 yards later in the game Benson got hurt but never grabbed hold of the starting job. For the season, Green averaged just 3.4 yards per carry.

Starks: As the starter in the Packers’ first preseason game, James Starks turned in a disappointing performance. Before suffering a turf toe injury which would cause him to miss half of the season, Starks also lost a fumble. He returned to the lineup and became a key part of the backfield rotation during the middle of the season, but his roster spot for 2013 is far from assured.

Saine: The second-year back out of Ohio State didn’t carry the ball once in 2012, as he was lost for the season after suffering a torn ACL in week six against the Houston Texans. Saine has appeared in just 14 games the past two seasons, but he showed promise during 2011 in a limited role.

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13

March

2013 NFL Draft Preview: Ranking Packers Running Back Prospects

North Carolina RB Gio Bernard

North Carolina RB Gio Bernard

Running back can be a tough position to evaluate headed into the NFL Draft.

Take last year for example. Trent Richardson was considered a “can’t-miss” guy at the top of the draft, but Alfred Morris, the 173rd overall pick, had the best season of all rookie running backs last year.

This year’s draft doesn’t have a clear-cut top back. There isn’t a Richardson or an Adrian Peterson in this year’s draft class, but there are a handful of intriguing prospects that could step in and start for a team from day one.

Nearly all draft rankings have the same two guys at the top: Alabama’s Eddie Lacy and North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard. Most have Lacy firmly entrenched as a first-round pick with Bernard projected to go in round two.

Lacy and Bernard are completely different backs. While Lacy is a physical, punishing runner, Bernard is a versatile player capable of doing damage in the passing game as well as between the tackles. In today’s pass-happy NFL, I prefer Bernard as a prospect slightly ahead of Lacy.

But beyond the top two guys, this year’s crop of running backs has some quality depth. Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle, Clemson’s Andre Ellington, UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin and Wisconsin’s Montee Ball all have a chance to be selected on Day 2.

Perhaps the most interesting running back in this year’s class is Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina. Lattimore suffered the most gruesome knee injuries I’ve ever seen last season, and concerns over his long-term health will likely cause him to drop to the third round.

It would be an upset if the Packers don’t add a running back at some point this offseason, whether it’s a veteran via free agency or a young guy through the draft.

1. Gio Bernard, North Carolina (5-8, 202)

  • Draft stock: Late 1st/Early 2nd
  • 40 time: 4.53, 225-pound bench: 19 reps, 10-yard split: 1.53
  • Two-year starter, declared after his RS Sophomore season.
  • The second round is likely where Bernard will be selected, but I really believe he’s the best running back in this class. On top of being a talented runner, he’s a dangerous return man and receiver. I see Bernard as Ray Rice 2.0, and I really think he’d be a natural fit in the Packers’ offense.
21

February

Packers Cedric Benson: 2012 Player Evaluation and Report Card

1) Introduction:  Coming into the season, the Packers made it clear that they wanted to improve their running game in 2012. Cedric Benson was supposed to be the feature back, thus giving the Packers a more balanced offense. Prior to signing with the Packers, Benson had at least 1,000 rushing yards in three consecutive seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. Benson signed with the Packers Aug. 21 and served as the starter until he suffered an injury in week five.

2) Profile:

Cedric Myron Benson

  • Age: 30
  • Born: 12/28/1982, in Midland, TX
  • Height: 5’11″
  • Weight: 228
  • College: Texas
  • Rookie Year: 2005
  • NFL Experience: 8 years

 Career stats and more:

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Some had high hopes for Benson in 2012. Having eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards in three straight seasons, the Packers hoped for a similar result. Once Benson arrived in town in the summer, there was no question as to who the starting running back was—it was Benson. But with perhaps the league’s best quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, Benson was never expected to be the focal point of the Packers’ offense.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Benson was effective at the beginning of the season; he scored the Packers’ only touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks in week three. But his best game of his season was Sept. 13 against the Chicago Bears in which he totaled 116 yards on 24 total touches. The low-point of Benson’s season was obviously week five when he suffered a season-ending injury.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success:  Benson played well in the five games he suited up for. Had he kept pace with his production for a full 16-game season, Benson would have had over 1,000 yards of total offense. The Lisfranc injury ended Benson’s season early, leaving the Packers shorthanded at the position.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs:  Benson didn’t play in the playoffs.

Season Report Card:

(C) Level of expectations met during the season

(D) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(F) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: D+

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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5

February

Packers Running Backs: Present and Future?

DuJuan Harris - Packers Running Back

DuJuan Harris – Packers Running Back

I dig into every article I can find about the Packers and the draft, including here at Al’s site.  There is a wide range of opinions on the subject of Packers running backs.  Lets look at my views on running backs,  those with the team, and in the draft.

The Packers currently have six running backs and one full back listed on their roster.  Those include running backs Cedric Benson, Alex Green, James Starks, Brandon Saine, Dujuan Harris, Ryan Grant and John Kuhn at full back.  Grant filled a spot caused by injuries, showed he can still do a little, but like last year, just say thank you and good luck.   The question on Benson would be is he even worth bringing back?  He did ok at best. He is a talented back with mileage and age, he just turned 30 and is coming back from a foot injury that required surgery.   I don’t see any compelling reason to bring him back other then competition.

Harris looks like a very good 3rd down back that can fill in nicely when needed to start, but not a “featured back”.  He does it all pretty well.  Has a decent jump cut, might need to be a bit more patient looking for cut back lanes.  He needs to be brought back and coached up over the off season.  Starks has shown he can be productive as a runner, is a good receiver out of the back field, but needs to work on blitz pickup.  How much time do you put into a talented 6th round RB that can’t stay healthy?  I think he should be brought back, but with any additional injuries he would get a quick hook from me.

Saine, another UDFA like Harris, has good straight line speed, is a decent receiver out of the back field and quite good in blitz pickup.  His ability in Pass Protection might have been his best asset. Not a great fit for the Packers running game.  He lacks lateral agility, but has quickness and speed.

23

January

Packers Stock Report: End of Season, Full Roster Edition

CB Tramon Williams and S Morgan Burnett fight for an interception against the Saints

Packers CB Tramon Williams found himself in the falling category. Safety Morgan Burnett was steady.

The Packers end of season, full roster stock report is upon us. Below are over 2,300 words of insight, analysis, opinions and nonsense about every player currently on the Packers roster.

Read closely and enjoy, because many of these players likely won’t be around in 2013.

I incorporated each player’s performance from this season, and their future outlook while categorizing. Please agree or disagree in the comments.

As always, thanks for reading the weekly stock reports. Onto the last one:

Rising

Aaron Rodgers
It wasn’t as great as his MVP campaign, but it was still damn good. With chaos and injuries swirling all around, Rodgers kept the Packers offense moving forward and limited mistakes. A fine all-around performance and no reason to think it won’t continue in 2013.

Randall Cobb
With Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson hobbled most of the season, Cobb broke out and turned into the Packers most dangerous weapon. I worry a little about his durability, but his production when healthy was great. Oh, and he needs to drop fewer passes.

DuJuan Harris
Is this too much praise for the 5-foot-7, 210-pound rolling ball of butcher knives? Maybe. But if I’m buying Harris stock, I want in right now. I think he’s going to stick with the Packers and get a chance to make some noise.

Casey Hayward
Lost in the disastrous playoff loss and grumbling about the Packers lack of physicality was Hayward’s dynamic rookie season. I don’t care if the read-option sticks or not, stopping the pass will still be a defense’s top priority and Hayward can do it.

Sam Shields
He’s on the rise now. Will he remain on the rise if the Packers pay him? Or will he morph back into the timid and non-aggressive cornerback of 2011? There’s no denying his raw talent, and I’d like to see him develop that talent as a member of the Packers.

Clay Matthews
Microsoft. Apple. TRowe Price. Fidelity. With the contract that Matthews will get from the Packers, he’ll be able to buy all the stock he wants.

Nick Perry
How can a guy who was hurt most of the season land in this category? The same way Matthews landed in the rising category when he was injured. The Packers can’t afford another season with Erik Walden as the primary outside linebacker opposite Matthews. Perry is rising by default.

19

January

What Route Will Packers Take at Running Back?

Packers RB DuJuan Harris

Packers RB DuJuan Harris

For the third consecutive season, the Green Bay Packers failed to have a 1,000-yard running back.

To start the season, the Packers surprised many by signing veteran Cedric Benson and making him the starter. Benson was supposed to be “the guy” in the backfield. And while he added another dimension to the offense, he suffered a Lisfranc injury Oct. 7 against Indianapolis and was sidelined for the rest of the season.

In all likelihood, Benson will not return next season.

Second-year running back Alex Green stepped in and filled Benson’s shoes as the starter. Green showed flashes but failed to make the most of his opportunity.

So when James Starks was ready to return, the team gave him a shot as the primary ball carrier. Starks was more effective than Green, but a late-season knee injury threatened his season. Facing the possibility of putting Starks on injured reserve, the team needed a backup plan.

In comes Ryan Grant–the guy the Packers showed no interest in re-signing when he was an unrestricted free agent last summer. But desperate times called for desperate measures. Grant carried the ball 20 times for 80 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Tennessee Titans, perhaps the best game by a Packers running back all season.

But ultimately, the Packers went with second-year player DuJuan Harris, whom they called up from the practice squad Dec. 1. Harris was likely the team’s most consistent option in the backfield but may be best-suited for a change-of-pace role within the offense.

This begs the question–Who will be the Packers’ starting running back next season?

Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel suggests that the Packers are “seeking (a) leading man at running back.” There are several veteran runners scheduled to become free agents.

Among the unrestricted free agents the Packers could go after are St. Louis’ Steven Jackson, Miami’s Reggie Bush, Dallas’ Felix Jones and the New York Jets’ Shonn Greene. Jackson would be ideal, but the Packers would probably only be interested in him in the secondary market given he will be 30 in July.

The Packers have been tied to Jackson for some time, but he’s certainly declining athletically. Bush fell 14 yards short of his second-straight 1,000-yard season, and he’ll likely be too expensive for the Packers. Jones and Greene both have shown flashes, but neither player has lived up to their draft position.

4

December

Packers News: Starks may be out for season

Packers RB James Starks

Packers RB James Starks

Jason Wilde of ESPN Wisconsin is reporting that running back James Starks may be out for the season with a knee injury.

Starks has battled numerous injuries dating back to his college days at Buffalo. He was forced to sit out the Packers’ first five games of the 2012 season with a significant turf toe injury.

But since returning to the field, Starks has become a major part of the team’s backfield rotation. This week against the Minnesota Vikings, he led the team with 66 yards on 15 carries, including a pivotal 22-yard touchdown.

The injury occurred when Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson upended Starks, hitting him square in the right knee late in the fourth quarter. Starks was able to return to the game and carry the ball a few more times, but the injury is apparently more serious than was originally thought.

The exact injury is unknown, although it’s not believed to be an ACL injury. Still, the Packers are reportedly considering putting Starks on the injured reserve and using the roster spot on a healthy player for the playoff run.

If Starks’s season is indeed over, the Packers will rely on Alex Green, fullback John Kuhn and recent call-up DuJuan Harris to shoulder the load running the football.

Green and Starks have been splitting carries since starter Cedric Benson suffered a Lisfranc injury against the Indianapolis Colts earlier this season.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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