Add another Packer to the list of those not returning this season. After reinjuring his knee in the Packers’ third preseason game, DuJuan Harris will be placed on Injured Reserve, bringing his 2013 season to a close even before it began. In his short time with the Packers, Harris has added value as both a runner and receiver, leaving shoes to fill in the backfield. But with the running back position crowded to begin with, the doors are now open for other ball carriers as the preseason nears its end.
Perhaps the biggest benefactor of Harris’ injury is third-year back Alex Green, who now appears to be more of a roster lock than before. Green has had a solid camp but simply hasn’t produced in live action since being drafted in 2011. And despite his poor track record, Green offers greater versatility and durability than injury-plagued James Starks, who was also on the roster bubble heading into the final preseason game.
The impacts of Harris’ injury may trickle all the way down to the practice squad, where the Packers are likely to stash undrafted free agent and recently-released Angelo Pease. With Harris not suiting up again until 2014, Pease’s road to the active roster becomes that much easier, one injury away from the type of promotion that Brandon Saine received in 2011.
The loss of one running back may mean nothing, however, if Eddie Lacy lives up to his preseason hype. Still, opportunity knocks for rookie Johnathan Franklin, who has had a poor camp training camp and would likely have been splitting third down reps with Harris and Green (at best) during the regular season. While Harris’ injury hasn’t shaken the Green Bay backfield the way it could have if the Packers hadn’t drafted Lacy, it drastically changes the picture for roster hopefuls, Green and Starks.