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Harris completes journey from car dealership to NFL

Dec. 1, 2012
 

When the phone finally stopped ringing, reality began to set in for DuJuan Harris.

Back home in Brooksville, Fla., more than a month had passed since the 5-foot-8, 203-pound running back received his release from the Pittsburgh Steelers, only days after he was claimed off waivers from Jacksonville.

The NFL dream needed to be put on hold.

So the former Troy University standout, who played five games for the Jaguars last season, began filling out applications. A criminal justice major by trade, Harris eventually settled for a job at a nearby car dealership.

The job lasted week and he didn’t sell one car, but did receive a call to tryout for the Green Bay Packers, who then signed him to their practice squad on Oct. 24 after Cedric Benson was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury.

On Saturday, Harris took the next step to regaining his spot in the NFL when he was elevated to the active roster after the team placed tight end Andrew Quarless (knee) and safety Sean Richardson (back) on season-ending injured reserve.

With third-string running back Johnny White out with the concussion he sustained early in the Packers’ 38-10 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday, Harris took some snaps with the first-team offense and special-teams units in practice this week.

Talking in the dim-lighted Packers’ auxiliary locker room reserved for the eight-man practice squad on Friday, Harris didn’t know if he’d get the promotion with White ruled out for Sunday's game against Minnesota and Benson officially done for the season after undergoing foot surgery this week.

There’s no question, however, he’s appreciated the opportunity to be in Green Bay.

“It was a great opportunity,” said Harris on Friday about getting called by the Packers. “I was at home doing nothing, so I was happy as hell to get that call. It was a blessing to get up here. Now, I’m doing whatever I have to do to stay in the game.”

Harris, 24, made Jacksonville’s roster as an undrafted rookie out of Troy where he rushed for 2,635 yards and 27 touchdowns on 540 career carries (4.9 average). He also caught 79 passes for 553 yards with five additional scores.

Harris started last season the Jaguars’ practice squad before being called up for the last five games where he rushed for 42 yards on nine carries with one catch for four years.

Listed at 5-8, Harris is one of the smallest running backs in the league, but he feels he has a good grasp of the system after a month on the scout team. He also isn’t afraid to work, especially if it means delaying the real world for a little while longer.

“I’m going to work. I’m going to do whatever it is I have to do,” Harris said. “Whenever they call me to do other stuff, I’ll just do it.”

The Packers also promoted wide receiver Jeremy Ross to fill the active roster spots vacated by Quarless and Richardson being moved to injured reserve.

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Get Green Bay Packers updates as they happen from our reporting team: (from left) Mike Vandermause, Wes Hodkiewicz and Pete Dougherty.

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