29

December

Packers DuJuan Harris: What are people saying?

Packers running back DuJuan Harris

Packers running back DuJuan Harris

On December 1st, the Packers signed running back DuJuan Harris to the active roster from their practice squad. Since that time, Harris has run the ball 20 times at a 4.4 yd per carry average and has two touchdowns. More importantly, he has shown something we haven’t seen in a Green Bay running back since Ahman Green – patience, vision and the ability to cut and make tacklers miss, while still hitting the hole hard.

First, a brief Bio:

In High School in Florida, Harris ran for 3,000-plus yards and 45 touchdowns, including a single-game record of 363 and five TDs. At the time, he weighed about 160lbs, which combined with his lack of height meant he didn’t get a lot of offers to play college ball.

Harris went to Division 1-A Troy, where he had 540 carries for 2,635 yards and 27 TDs and 79 receptions for 553 yards and five TDs.

Harris was signed as an undrafted free agent by Jacksonville and spent 11 games on the practice squad and 5 games on the active roster.  He was cut in training camp in 2012, signed by the Steelers for their last preseason game and then cut again. The Packers signed him to their practice squad on Oct 24th and then to their active roster on Dec. 1st.

In his limited playing time, DuJuan Harris has drawn high praise from some teammates and coaches:

Mike McCarthy: He’s a change-of-pace player for us because of his physical skill set. He presents a different challenge to defenders. He’s small at impact and he’s as quick as he is fast. DuJuan has the ability to put his foot down and lower his shoulder, and he also has the ability to make you miss. He’s unique and we haven’t had a runner with that skill set in my time here.

Mike McCarthy: “He’s a young man that has a lot of ability. He’s 5-foot-7, but other than that we like everything about him. He has very good hands. He has burst. He’s quick. So, he’s done a nice job since he’s been here.”

James Jones: ”He’s got a bright future. I’ve never seen anybody as quick as him in and out of his cuts. It’s similar to Barry Sanders. Seriously. “It’s similar to Barry! I know he came from nowhere, but watching him in practice, and the way he moves, all that stuff, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Packers running backs coach Alex Van Pelt: “I watched him on the first day of practice, his foot speed and quickness and ability to jump cut and get in and out of cuts and stop on a dime was immediate. This guy’s got a little something to him, he’s got a little wiggle and some burst.”

Aaron Rodgers: “He just has unique agility I think. He’s able to make those jump cuts which I can only dream about. It’s pretty impressive to watch him in practice.”

Aaron Rodgers: “DuJuan Harris, you know, he could be special down the road,”

Troy running backs coach Jeff Beckles: ”He makes one cut and he goes. He runs the ball powerful — shoulder down and runs hard. He runs violently.”  ”He’s fast, obviously, and he’s strong. He’s going to bring it. He’s not going to let up.”

Jersey Al Bracco: OK, so nobody really quoted me, but I do want to throw my two cents in. While everyone has commented on his cutting ability, there is something else that stands out to me: patience and vision. on several occasions, I’ve seen harris watching the play develop, slow down to let the block develop, then cut into the resulting hole. No running up the ass of his blockers, no panic, just a calm assessment of the play in front of him and then a good decision on where to run. Some examples from the Titans’ game:

 

In the clip above, Harris sees the defensive end being taken to the ground, so no worries there. His eyes are on the second line of defenders the whole time. As he sees his blockers pushing the Titans defenders towards the sidelines, he takes a hard step right to lead them in that direction , then immediately cuts behind his blockers and hits the hole with aggression.

In the clip below, Harris takes the hand off and surveys the scene. Sitton and EDS execute a fine seal block on the defensive tackle. Barclay and Finley are trying to kick out on the defensive end. He drifts towards the outside, which draws the linebacker in that direction then make a hard cut in the open seam leading right to the end zone. Once Harris hits the seam, he accelerates, making a would-be Titans tackler misjudge his approach and miss.

Now, this is only 2 plays, and Harris is still an unknown quantity to the rest of the league, which certainly has helped him in this short stint in the NFL. But there is definite upside that can be seen in Harris.

I, for one, can’t wait to see if he continues to develop.

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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15 Responses to “Packers DuJuan Harris: What are people saying?”

  1. FITZCORE1252 says:

    Ok Al, Harris… or Lumpy?

    GBP 4 LIFE

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. MARK KING says:

    Very good article, good analysis. Like this kind of stuff. Look forward to seeing more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. David says:

    We always wanted a fast little guy that could still take a hit and keep going.. a poor mans Maurice Jones-Drew (though he goes @ 210 lbs and Harris doesn’t).

    And now we have him… thanks to the Steelers and Jags.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • Bubbaloo says:

      David, he’s listed at 203#, I’ll take that along with what I’ve seen!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Mark says:

      Poor man’s Sproles?

      Really was hoping Sproles would end up in GB when he was a FA a few years back. I guess Brees and him practicing together in the offseason probably made that difficult, but what an addition a back like that would be to the GB offense!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Nitsua says:

      ^Amen^ I went to Central High School with this guy (AKA Fox) and watched him play a lot of football from middle school on up. He’s special and even at his short height, he weighs over 200lbs, he’s powerful, agile, and runs a 4.3 40 (At an FSU camp he was unofficially timed at 4.25). There’s no doubt in my mind that “Fox” will have a job in the NFL for years to come! This guy converted me to a Packers fan!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. Nick Perry says:

    Personally I like what I’ve seen of him and would like to see more. Seems like a great pick up by Ted T. One thing I’ve observed over the entire season is whenever the Packers run left, to Newhouses side, especially wide, it gets blown up. From what you guys have observed, is Newhouse just that bad of a run blocker or what?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • Oppy from the great white north says:

      Newhouse’s blocking isn’t in the league of Sitton, and he’s not a scrapper like Barclay, but he’s not ‘that bad’, either.

      IMHO, TJ Lang was responsible for quite a few bad runs to the left early this season, and I think it had to do with his then-untalked about knee injury. After Lang was displaced, EDS wasn’t exactly turning in winning performances at LG either, and the lack of continuity on the left side that resulted certainly wasn’t ideal.

      Newhouse isn’t a great run blocker, but to my eyyes, he typically hits his targets and does what he’s supposed to do. That being said, with Bulaga/Barclay/Sitton/and now EDS spanning the right side, plus perhaps Crabtree, Taylor, (hopefully Quarless) or even Von Roten lining up tight, why WOULD you ever make the run side of the play the left side?

      Another thought is this- when we run ZBS plays, every play is designed to unfold to either side- there’s the designed play side, and the back side should always be an option for the RB to take the cut back route where the back side blockers have chopped the defense.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

        Your last paragraph exemplifies what Cedric Benson was doing so well. He used the back side cut extremely well…

        As for Newhouse, he doesn’t seem to get much of a push in the run game. He can execute seal blocks, but too many times he gets pushed back, messing up the flow of the running back…

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. Oppy from the great white north says:

    Dujuan Harris has the kind of zero-to-60 mph burst that Alex Green displayed during his rookie training camp before his knee was blown out, plus a step quicker. Harris has looked really good thus far, and seeing his explosion has made me even more excited to see Green slowly getting his quickness and explosion back as well.

    Grant is looking good, too, and I think the Packers are really hoping Starks gets through this injury phase of his career and can replace what Grant brings to the table.

    The RB stable could be set for years.

    I think Starks is the short yardage, mudder/grinder-out-the-clock/soften up the defense back, Green is the all-purpose, run it inbetween the tackles or stretch it outside, threat out of the backfield in the passing game, potential break away back, and Harris is the change of pace, keep the defense on their toes, threat for the surprise home-run back.. If that makes sense at all!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    • Mark says:

      Saying that the bunch of guys that GB has in the backfield right now makes them potentially set for years to come sends shivers down my spine.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Oppy says:

        It was great when the Packers had a bonafide stud like Ahman Green at RB, but may I remind you the Packers also fared well when we had Bennett and Levens lining up in the backfield.

        I would always welcome an upgrade, but there are some very real advantages to having a stable of role playing running backs as opposed to one superstar. :)

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  6. steve cheez says:

    Al, I quote you all the time.

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