29

July

DuJuan Harris could bring some nasty to Packers kickoff return unit

DuJuan Harris bike

This picture of Packers RB DuJuan Harris carrying a little girls’ pink bike to practice on Monday is making the rounds online. I thought it would be funny to pair this sweet picture with my post about how violent and nasty of a runner Harris could be on kickoffs.

After three days of Packers training camp practices, it appears DuJuan Harris will be given an opportunity to win the kick returner job.

It’s way too early for anybody to get a sense of who has the advantage in contested position battles, but the thought of Harris returning kicks intrigues me in an old-school football sort of way.

Harris packs 200-plus pounds onto his 5-foot-8 frame and runs like a burning man sprinting for a nearby lake. A “rolling ball of butcher knives” was the phrase an NFL scout used to describe Harris in a Bob McGinn game review story a few years back.

I want to see Harris take a kick five yards deep in the end zone, build up a head of steam, and plow straight into the first guy who tries to tackle him. If Harris hits a pile of tacklers forming a wall to bring him down, my money is on the wall moving backward before Harris hits the turf.

The NFL has tried to make kick returns safer in recent years. To me, trying to tackle Harris after he’s been charging ahead for 15 yards seems anything but safe.

Harris is the type of player who will bring some violence to the Packers kick return unit and make people who remember what kickoffs were like 10, 15 or 20 years ago smile and nod their heads.

Of course, Harris is coming back after missing last season with a knee injury and various other ailments. Perhaps the promise he showed at the end of 2012 will be long gone.

The former used car salesman deserves a chance, though. With Eddie Lacy and James Starks slotted as the top two running backs, kick returns might be Harris’s best shot at carving out a significant role on this team.

——————

Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

——————

---- Get AddToAny
24

June

Cory’s Corner: A healthy DuJuan Harris is a perfect No. 2

DuJuan Harris rushed for 157 yards in four games in 2012. He missed all of last season with a knee injury.

DuJuan Harris rushed for 157 yards in four games in 2012. He missed all of last season with a knee injury.

The news about Johnathan Franklin was stunning and devastating.

Even without Franklin, the Packers’ running back position still appears to have plenty of promise. There is a Rookie of the Year returning in Eddie Lacy and a guy that tore up the postseason en route to a Super Bowl title in James Starks.

But with Franklin’s career-ending injury, DuJuan Harris is a guy that the Packers really need to produce.

Harris injured his knee last August on a screen pass against the Seahawks and was subsequently placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Harris and Starks are easily comparable. Both are compact and hard-charging runners. Both have decent speed and both don’t shy away from getting or laying a hit.

But the difference is that Harris has plenty of tread left on his tires. He only has 43 carries entering his fourth season as opposed to Starks who’s got 322 carries entering his fifth season.

Starks has been riddled with injury problems his entire football playing career. Whether it’s the knee, turf toe, both shoulders, hamstring, or an ankle, he has seen his fair share of pain.

Which is why Harris needs to assert himself in training camp and make a case to be the No. 2 running back. Fans fell in love with Harris’ story in 2012. Before he was signed in October he was just an ordinary car salesman.

And the Packers could use a solid complement to Lacy, who cannot be expected to maintain his workload from a year ago. While Lacy does have a nice spin move, he is a straight-up runner and is a big target for defenders.

But it’s all up to Harris’ knee and his psyche. If his knee feels well, but he has reservations about getting hit or potentially injuring it again, then he will never unseat Starks.

However, if he runs confidently like he did in 2012 when he averaged 4.6 yards a carry on 34 rushing attempts, he will be spelling Lacy soon.

——————

Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn

——————

26

April

Cory’s Corner: Running back position is on life support

We all know what the NFL has become.

It’s a week-to-week aerial circus that promotes scoring and keeps fans interested with countless big plays.

LeSean McCoy is one of the best running backs in the NFL. But, it's his versatility that makes him so good, not just his running back ability.

LeSean McCoy is one of the best running backs in the NFL. But, it’s his versatility that makes him so good, not just his running back ability.

Thirteen teams accounted for at least five 300-yard passing games last year with the Broncos and Saints leading the way with 12 and 11.

The 300-yard passing game used to be the litmus test for solid quarterback play. But with the increased number of passing attempts and the stricter rules for defensive players, it’s tougher for a receiver to be guarded man-to-man.

With the passing game the way it is now, will we ever see the running back be revived? The running back used to be not only the focal point of an offense but of a team. He was the guy that was in charge of softening up the defense and also took the reins when it was time to salt the game away.

This has been a pretty pathetic offseason if you’re a running back. Fifteen backs have signed for an average contract of two years, $4.17 million. Contrast that with kickers and four of those signed for an average of three years, $6.4 million.

I never thought I’d see the day when kickers would be netting more than running backs. But kickers can be an equalizer with a strong foot for field goals and kickoffs.

Another factor that has really hurt the running back position is the recent trend of platooning the position. It really never allows a running back to get into a rhythm and see the changes and shifts the defense is making during the course of a game. There’s something to be said about bringing a running back in that is a change-of-pace. For example, DuJuan Harris would be the perfect home run threat to the battering ram that is Eddie Lacy.

The West Coast offense has also played a part in the running back’s slow demise. Bill Walsh was a genius for coming up with a system that uses precision short passes to take the place of plodding runs. And that has also put more pressure on players and coaches to draft the right quarterback.

4

September

Despite Optimism, Evidence is Lacking that the Packers’ rushing attack will be Better in 2013

Eddie Lacy has people excited about the Packers running game. Is it irrational excitement?

Is it just me, or are people irrationally assuming that the Packers will be a better running team this season?

I just got done listening to Bill Simmons’ latest podcast. Simmons and Cousin Sal (Simmons’ sidekick) talked about NFL over/under win totals and highlighted the Packers improved running game as a possible reason for the team’s success this upcoming season. Sal even cited Jonathan Franklin as a reason for his optimism, even though Franklin has looked like a total bust so far.

It’s normal for national media figures to stick to talking points and get a little confused about specific players when doing massive preview shows that cover all 32 NFL teams.  But even locally and among Packers fans, the consensus seems to be that the Packers will go from being a horrible running team to at least a decent running team.

Why? What have we seen this preseason that has made us think that? I can’t think of much. Here’s what I have seen, and it’s not pretty:

  • The Packers averaged a measly 3.0 yards per carry in the preseason.
  • The Packers long rush was a 21-yard scramble by the now departed Vince Young, a quarterback.
  • Eddie Lacy, the presumed starter, averaged 2.0 yards per carry.
  • Bryan Bulaga, a key to the Packers run blocking up front, is out for the season.
  • DuJuan Harris is gone for the year, and Mike McCarthy sounded uncharacteristically depressed when talking about the injury.
  • This is still the Packers and McCarthy is still the coach. They’re going to want to pass, pass and pass some more.

Help me out here: What am I missing that others are seeing in predicting great things for the Packers on the ground this season?

Is all of the hope about a better running game centered on Lacy? That’s fair, I suppose. I’m excited about Lacy as well. But Lacy is also already banged up and could be one hit or awkward fall away from joining Harris on injured reserve.

Is all of the hope centered on just how awful the Packers were at running the ball in 2012? It’s not good when you’re leading rusher finishes with 464 yards, like Alex Green did last season.

27

August

Packers Cut Roster to 75 Players

Packers GM Ted Thompson

Packers GM Ted Thompson made his roster cuts on Tuesday to make the 75-player limit.

The Green Bay Packers announced on Tuesday afternoon that their roster had been reduced to 75 players, per NFL rules. Four players were placed on injured reserve, four were placed on the PUP (physically unable to perform), and one was released. The players removed from the active roster were:

  • T Bryan Bulaga (IR)
  • WR Kevin Dorsey (IR)
  • RB DuJuan Harris (IR)
  • LB Jarvis Reed (IR)
  • S Sean Richardson (PUP)
  • T Derek Sherrod (PUP)
  • T J.C. Tretter (PUP)
  • DE Jerel Worthy (PUP)
  • K Zach Ramirez (released)

This is in addition to the six players already released since Saturday:

  • QB Graham Harrell
  • WR Justin Wilson
  • WR Omarius Hines
  • WR Alex Gillett
  • DL Gilbert Peña
  • RB Angelo Pease
  • K Giorgio Tavecchio

The players placed on injured lists (PUP and IR) were largely expected to end up there. DuJuan Harris was the one surprising move reported earlier this afternoon. Zach Ramirez was somewhat surprising considering his very recent signing; however, Packers beat reporters noted that he only made 6 of 16 field goal attempts during today’s practice. Mason Crosby connected on all 14 of his, suggesting that he might have finally won the preseason battle for good.

One more important note is that players placed on injured reserve today can not be “Designated for Return” later on in the season. This means that Bryan Bulaga and DuJuan Harris are effectively done for the year. Players on the PUP, as always, will have the opportunity to return to practice six weeks into the regular season.

Ted Thompson and the Packers must further reduce the roster to 53 players by the end of business on Saturday, August 31st.

——————

Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

——————

27

August

Packers News: Dujuan Harris to IR

The Packers have announced that running back Dujuan Harris has been placed on IR, ending his 2013 season before it even started.  This perhaps culminates a star-crossed offseason for Harris, who coming in to the offseason looked like the Packers starter.  During the training camp physical, a fist sized cyst was found in Harris’ lung which forced him to miss much of the beginning of training camp.  Once allowed to return, Harris was again hobbled by a knee injury, which finally looked behind Harris coming into the 3rd preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks.  Unfortunately, Harris appears to have re-injured the same knee in the 2nd quarter and did not return to the game.

 

 

Afterwards, Harris sought out a second opinion and apparently the news did not come back well and thus Mike McCarthy has announced that Harris will be placed on IR.  No news has been announced if the Packers will decide to use the IR/Designated to Return tag on Harris, which would allow him to return after week 6 of the regular season.

With Harris out, Eddie Lacy presumably becomes the defacto starting running back with Johnathan Franklin, Alex Green and James Starks as backups.

 

Update:

~~~~~~~~

Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al\'s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

~~~~~~~~

23

August

Pre Season Week 3 – Packers vs. Seahawks: Keys to the Game

Packers vs Seahawks

Wilson will provide the Packers with their first test with a mobile quarterback in 2013

Please forgive my hiatus for last week’s Green Bay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams contest.  I was temporarily brainwashed to think that my post would write itself.  But I digress. . .

This week’s pre season game has the Seattle Seahawks visiting Lambeau Field to face the Packers on Friday.  As John Rehor of Packers Talk has said, this is not a rematch of last year’s Monday Night Football debacle.  Dubbed the “Fail Mary” game, it incited a lot of controversy and left many Packers fans wanting vengeance against both the man (the Seahawks) and the machine (Roger Gooddell and the NFL).  But alas, as John said, it’s not a rematch.  It’s just a pre season game.

Still, week three of the NFL pre season has long been considered a dress rehearsal for the upcoming season and the starting units typically see their longest stint on the field during this game.  It’s more of a true litmus test to see how a team looks and how prepared they are for the upcoming regular season.  While there may be some chatter from the players and media, the Packers need to drown that out and focus.

During the offseason, the Seahawks got busy in acquiring more pieces to complete their team and get even better than last year when they came within inches and seconds of advancing to the NFC Championship game.  They traded a first round draft pick for receiver Percy Harvin to give quarterback Russell Wilson another solid target.  Harvin promptly injured his hip and had to have surgery, which will prevent his Seattle debut until some time in November, if at all.  Seattle also brought in former Lions defensive end Cliff Avril to help with their pass rush and former Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield to add some experience to their defensive backfield.

Seattle comes into this season as not only a favorite to win the NFC West, but they are also considered by many to be front runners for the NFC and the Super Bowl.  This should provide a solid test for the Packers, who also figure to be in the mix for a deep playoff run.  Let’s drill down on the keys for the Packers in this week’s game and also some of the position battles that are still in full swing.