Before DuJuan Harris was injured during training camp last season, he was expected to compete to be the starting running back of the green Bay Packers along with Eddie Lacy. Of course, the injury Harris suffered caused him to miss the entire season and with Lacy, as they say, the rest is history.
Lacy went on to a dominant rookie season in which he earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Honors, following a season where he rushed for for 1,178 yards, added 257 yards receiving and scored a total of 11 touchdowns. Lacy became such a valuable player for Green Bay that he is now arguably the second most important player on the Packers offense behind quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
With Lacy’s success coupled with the fact that Green Bay re-signed James Starks to a new two-year contract, it begs the question, where does that leave DuJuan Harris?
Harris, a former undrafted free agent, proved his worth to the Packers at the end of the 2012 season. During that season he played in just four games, starting two but racked up 174 total yards and two touchdowns, while averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Then in the playoffs against the Vikings and 49ers, Harris impressed again racking up 164 total yards, seven receptions and two touchdowns in two games.
Following that performance, even with the selection of Lacy, Green Bay had big plans for Harris entering the 2013 season, it envisioned a dynamic one-two punch of Harris and Lacy that could finally revive a downtrodden rushing attack. Yet, it didn’t work out that way. Harris got hurt, leaving Lacy and Starks to turn Green Bay into a dominant run team, while Harris stood on the sideline and watched himself sink back to low man on the totem pole.
However, despite Green Bay having two very talented running backs ahead of Harris on the depth chart, don’t be surprised if the Packers find a niche role on offense for the talented and explosive back, provided he can keep himself healthy.
One area where Harris really exceeds is in pass protection and if he can continue to prove his worth protecting Rodgers and catching passes out of the backfield, he could find himself as the Packers third-down back from time-to-time and can still provide a nice change of pace to get away from the powerful running styles of Lacy and Starks.
Due to the unfortunate neck injury that prematurely ended the career of 2013 fourth-round pick Jonathan Franklin; Harris has a solid hold on the no.3 running back position going into training camp. If he can continue to make plays when opportunities arise and excels at protecting Rodgers, Green Bay will no choice but to keep him and develop a role for him, adding even more depth and explosiveness to an already loaded backfield.