DuJuan Harris is the next man up for the Green Bay Packers.
Green Bay has struggled all season to find a legitimate rusher to complement Aaron Rodgers and its top-tier passing game. Five players not named Rodgers carried the ball 30 times in the 2012 regular season: Alex Green (135), James Starks (71), Cedric Benson (71), Ryan Grant (32) and Harris (34).
None of them reached 500 yards rushing. Green led the team with 464 yards on the ground, which is an average of 3.4 yards per game. Harris (4.62) and Grant (4.13) were the only two to average better than four yards per carry. Harris’ average is a very respectable one, but Green Bay can’t trust him just yet after such a small volume of touches—it hasn’t seen enough from him.
The Packers may be concerned with the fact that Harris averaged 2.8 yards per carry on a career-high (including regular season and playoffs) 17 rushing attempts against the Minnesota Vikings, a team that he just ran for 70 against in Week 17 on 14 totes. Green fell short of 2.8 yards per carry four times this season in the 10 games that he recorded a rushing attempt.
Benson did so twice in his five games of service for the Packers. Starks did it once in six.
Besides wide receiver Randall Cobb—who probably shouldn’t carry the ball more than a handful of times per game—Harris looks like the best option that Green Bay has in its backfield for the remainder of the playoffs.
The Packers should look to free agency or the draft for more backfield production in 2013, however. Benson and Grant each turned 30 years old in December. Starks and Green have not been extraordinarily productive in their NFL careers.
Especially if he keeps up his regular-season average through the Packers playoff run, Harris deserves a chance to prove whether he can be a featured back for Green Bay next year. In the event that he isn’t featured-back material, though, the Packers should have fresher—and perhaps more talented—legs waiting in the wings.
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