I would be a fool to say that I wasn’t ecstatic about the Green Bay Packers‘ running game in 2013 – rookie of the year Eddie Lacy, a strong backup in James Starks, and the potential that is Johnathan Franklin.
Remember last summer when we were all scratching our heads over the enthusiasm that Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was showing over Harris? He was adamant about his claims that the guy who helped carry the team into the 2012 playoffs was going to be the team’s starter. That was before Harris blew up his knee a couple of plays into his preseason.
McCarthy knew something at that point and he should still be excited about what could be in 2014.
However, since going down with his injury Harris became an afterthought.
We forgot about him after Lacy came out and powered his way to more than 1,100 yards, broke John Brockington‘s rookie records and then went on to be named the NFL’s Rookie of the Year. James Starks also played a huge role in Lacy’s success, as well, coming in as a reserve to bust out on some huge touchdown runs and to take over with impressive games when Lacy was injured. Though he missed a couple of games with his own leg injury, Starks came back and helped the Packers later in the season with several steady performances.
And then there was Franklin. When Starks went down against Cincinnati in week three last year, Franklin came in and gained more than 100 yards in a single half and it was only his game-turning fumble on a bad play call on fourth down that was his downfall. He didn’t play much after that fumble, but we all saw his potential. He didn’t get another legitimate chance and went out with an injury about three-quarters of the way through the year.
So, the Packers have the foundation built. They’re stronger at the running back position that they have been in recent memory. While Starks may leave for greener pastures and more money, the team will still be in great shape. As a matter of fact, I don’t expect Starks to be back. I can see another running back-starved team snatching Starks up – and the Packers will probably allow him to walk.
Because they have DuJuan Harris waiting in the wings.
Harris, if he comes back healthy and ready to play as hard as he did in 2012, the Packers will have their yin to Lacy’s Yang. The two of them will surely add up to the one-two punch that McCarthy was envisioning during training camp last season.
Throw in Franklin and the Packers will have a trio of running backs that could prove to be one of the best in the entire league.
However, the challenge of striking a balance between the thunder and lightning will be key and something that will have to managed well by the coaching staff. Without the right mix, it could be a failed experiment, but with the right amount, it could translate into dynamite.
I could actually see the Packers coming away at the end of the 2014 campaign with two 1,000 yard rushers.
Having DuJuan Harris back on the field is going to give the Packers offensive attack something special and I, for one, can’t wait to see what the possibilities are going to bring.