Packers practice out of the limelight: McCarthy really likes Harris


Packers general manager Ted Thompson will have plenty to evaluate in the coming couple of weeks as the Packers start whittling down the roster at the end of this month. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

The Green Bay Packers practiced without pads today and more importantly, they practiced behind closed doors where running back DuJuan Harris participated for the first time in this training camp and first round draft pick Datone Jones stood and watched.

Harris, who has been coined by Head Coach Mike McCarthy as his starter, is still being seen as the guy to beat out when it comes to the number one running back spot. McCarthy reiterated that notion today.

If Mike McCarthy has his way, you will be seeing more of Aaron Rodgers handing off to DuJuan Harris in 2013. The running back was at practice today and will be working toward winning the starting running back position. Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports photograph

He doesn’t mince words or conviction. Here’s how he described his feelings about Harris:

"“DuJuan Harris, the way we ended the season, I would classify him as a starter on our football team. I have that confidence in him.”"

Later in McCarthy’s presser this afternoon, his words were even stronger in praise of Harris:

"“The young man’s a damn good football player.”"

That’s great news for Harris, probably not such great news for the guys behind him who have been toiling since the beginning of camp to gain a foothold on the starting job. No doubt, the addition of Harris into the mix continues to make running back one of the most intriguing, if not deepest position battle this training camp. Who’s the odd man out? Performances Saturday will surely make a difference.

On the other side of the ball, Jones, who was injured in last Friday’s game against the Cardinals, watched practice from the sidelines, suffering from what was initially called a sprained ankle. Whatever the injury, it doesn’t seem as serious as many believed and everyone is breathing a sigh of relief.

McCarthy, however, said he wasn’t sure the rookie defensive end would be ready to play in Saturday’s game at St. Louis.

"“Datone Jones will miss a couple days this week. I don’t have a good handle on if he’ll play against St. Louis.”"

And that was the extent of McCarthy’s comments about the situation. Clearly, he’s not too concerned – which is a good thing.

Other good news was that wide receiver Randall Cobb was back at practice and ready to go, according to McCarthy. However, on the flip side, other players who were still out included running back Eddie Lacy and guard T.J. Lang. McCarthy said Lang was still being bothered by a bad

Mason Crosby is locked in a kicking competition with Georgio Tavecchio. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

back, so he was kept out. As for Lacy, he is still hampered by a bad hamstring. McCarthy said Lacy had been evaluated, but he had not seen the results of the testing. Stay tuned on that front.

Also on the docket today was a continuation of the kicking competition between Georgio “Sergio” Tavecchio and Mason Crosby. Again Tavecchio held the upper hand in the competition, converting eight straight kicks. Crosby finished with seven of eight, with a miss wide left from 46 yards.

It’s looking more and more like that position battle is going to come down to how they perform in game situations. While Punter Tim Masthay had plenty of practice in last Friday’s game, the only kicker who touched the field was Mason Crosby, who kicked off to open the game.

So, the news from today’s practice in Green Bay was pretty good for once. At least there were no additions to the injury list.

Again, stay tuned …