Found December 31, 2012 on
Fox Sports Wisconsin:
Green Bay Packers
San Francisco 49ers
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- DuJuan Harris was the best running back option for the Packers in Sundays regular-season finale, but it wasnt enough to earn the starting job permanently heading into the playoffs.
"We dont have a starting running back," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday.
Harris accounted for 14 of Green Bays 16 carries in the loss to the Minnesota Vikings, rushing for 70 yards (5.0 average). Veteran Ryan Grant started the game and got the first two rushing attempts, but after that, it was all Harris.
"I thought DuJuan Harris played well, and hes getting better each week," McCarthy said of the player who got his first carry of the season in Week 14. "Were doing everything we can to keep progressing him because he does have unique skills and run ability that I havent had the opportunity to work with in my time here. (Running backs coach) Alex Van Pelt has done a great job of working with the young man getting him ready, so he was able to get the opportunities.
"Like I said before, were going to run the guy we feel has the hot hand, and he was that guy (Sunday)."
Alex Green, who started four games at running back in the regular season, was healthy and active for the game but didnt play a single down.
"Going into the game, we really went with Ryan Grant and DuJuan Harris as the focal point," McCarthy said. "Theyre (Nos.) 1 and 2, and we were just going to see how the game unfolded."
Harris was added to the Packers active roster on Dec. 1. Early on, he was only in on plays in which he got the ball. But recently, as hes continued to learn the offense, Harris has gotten closer to being an every-down back. Against the Vikings, he was on the field for 38 snaps -- more than Green, Grant and fullback John Kuhn combined -- despite running the ball only 14 times.
But in the Packers-Vikings rematch Saturday night, the rotation at running back could change.
"Thats something that the work week will answer," McCarthy said. "Well go through the game-planning, well try to make sure all three of those guys are ready to go. But really, the way the game flows, will have a lot to do with who gets the carries."
Its also possible that James Starks, who got the majority of the carries in Weeks 9, 11 and 13, could return from his knee injury and enter into the running back competition.
"I know James is getting close (to returning)," McCarthy said. "Im hopeful hell be able to get to the practice field this week. But well see where he is."
Regardless of which running back the Packers feature in the playoffs, they will be the only team in the NFC bracket without a clear No. 1 option. The sixth-seeded Vikings have the leagues top rusher in Adrian Peterson. The No. 4 Washington Redskins hand the ball to rookie Alfred Morris, who finished second in the NFL in rushing yards. Marshawn Lynch, the leagues third-leading rusher, is a big reason for the fifth-seeded Seattle Seahawks postseason spot. San Franciscos Frank Gore is 10th in the league in rushing. And though the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons dont have a rusher in the top 20 in the NFL rankings, Michael Turners 800 rushing yards is still 336 yards more than any running back on the Packers roster (Green leads with 464 yards).
In order for the Packers to emerge from the NFC and make a run to the Super Bowl, theyll need one of their lesser-known running backs to give them a boost.
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