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Central High School

Central grad DuJuan Harris lands on IR

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Published:   |   Updated: August 28, 2013 at 10:15 AM

The Green Bay Packers announced on Tuesday that they had placed running back DuJuan Harris, a 2007 Central High graduate, on injured reserve.

Harris re-aggravated a patellar tendon injury in his right knee in Friday night's preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, and said he'll probably need surgery to clean it up.

Though the team could still designate him to return later in the year, his season is likely over before it ever started.

"It's a little bit frustrating, but it's a process," Harris said. "I'm a patient person and I've got to be patient and work my way through. It's like I tell people, life is a dark tunnel and there's light at the end of that tunnel as long as you keep pressing on.

"The coaches made a decision. They're looking out for what's best for me, they're looking more long-term. I will be back. I'm still a Packer and right now I'll be the biggest cheerleader the team has and keep working to get back on the field."

Harris, a third-year player undrafted out of Troy University, was cut by both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers last preseason and found himself selling cars in Jacksonville while waiting for another team to call.

He eventually landed on Green Bay's practice squad in October and quickly worked his way up to the starting tailback spot by season's end.

In four regular-season games he ran the ball 34 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns, then rushed for 100 yards on 28 carries and scored twice in two playoff contests. He also caught seven passes for 64 yards in the postseason.

The Packers drafted Alabama running back Eddie Lacy in the second round of the NFL Draft in April, but Harris was still expected to see plenty of playing time.

Harris immediately reached out to Lacy after his selection on Twitter, and said the Green Bay running backs have formed a "good chemistry."

"It's all about helping the team out, and we were ready to do what we needed to do," Harris said.

For now all he can do is watch from the sidelines, a reoccurring problem for him going back through the offseason.

In addition to the knee trouble, a physical before minicamp revealed a noncancerous cyst pressing up against one of his lungs. The cyst was surgically removed.

According to Harris' agent Dave Lee, doctors believe Harris had the cyst, which could have caused Harris problems later in life if untreated, his entire life and said that it was actually limiting his lung capacity.

That caused Harris to miss further time, and thanks to his knee he didn't start practicing until Aug. 12. Friday was his first preseason appearance.

Despite the recent turn of events, Harris remained upbeat about his future. He remains signed with the Packers through the 2014 season.

"I had the cyst on my lung, and that was more severe than this and I fought through that," Harris said. "There's nothing I can't beat. I'll be back and better than ever.

"I'm still happy. I don't want anybody to feel sorry for me. I'll be fine. I'm writing a long story and this is not even close to the end."

cbernhardt@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5288

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