Between now and the draft, The Packer Perspective will take a look back at some of the more notable moments of the 2012 season. Though they may not be the biggest games or the flashiest moments, they’ll each be influential or special in their own way.
Remember that time way back in August when the debate between Cedric Benson and Ryan Grant was a legitimate question? Injury woes had plagued the running back corps in training camp, and it seemed obvious that Ted Thompson needed to bring someone aboard to ease the burden until Alex Green, James Starks, and company could get back to full strength. Ultimately, the former Cincinnati Bengal and Chicago Bear Cedric Benson was signed, setting in motion a revolving door at running back that would last throughout the season.
Benson’s productive time with the Packers was limited to a five week cameo, as a Lisfranc injury shelved him for the balance of the season in Week 5. The timing of the injury seemed especially unfortunate, as Benson had posted games of 81 and 84 yards in two of the previous three weeks and was slowly becoming more of a feature in the offense.
However, Benson’s injury-induced move to the sideline paved the way for increased playing time for Alex Green, James Starks, and ultimately DuJuan Harris, and could have helped clear up a few questions lingering around the backfield. While the injury was not ideal, the answers it provided may have big ramifications for a number of players.
First, Alex Green is clearly not a feature back. He had plenty of opportunities, but rarely was able to show the ability to carry the load in the backfield. Green averaged just 3.8 yards on 135 carries, and only had three games where he passed 50 rushing yards on less than 20 rushing attempts.ks, and ultimately DuJuan Harris. While the productivity of that trio was limited, but may have answered a number of important questions, moving forward.
Secondly, James Starks showed once again that he’s not a reliable option in the backfield, either as a starter or as a backup. He simply cannot stay healthy. As unhelpful as the term is, “injury prone” is a label that just might apply to Mr. Starks. Iron Man he is not.
Finally, DuJuan Harris might be…something. Is he a feature back? A complimentary piece? That’s yet to be determined, but it’s hard to imagine a situation where he gets a real shot if Cedric Benson is a healthy part of the roster late in the season. The long looks Harris gets this off-season and into next year’s training camp likely wouldn’t be a reality without Benson’s injury.
So while Cedric Benson didn’t ultimately solve any of last year’s training camp issues at the running back position, his addition to the roster may have set off an interesting season-long saga in the backfield, a story that will extend to this year’s draft, next year’s training camp, and beyond.