Notebook: Running game stalls; linemen puzzled

Aug. 23, 2013

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Green Bay Packers running back DuJuan Harris carries the ball in the first quarter of Friday night's preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette Media
Green Bay Packers' Datone Jones during the first half of Friday night's preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field. / AP

Injury report

New injuries: RB DuJuan Harris (knee), S Morgan Burnett (hamstring), CB Jarrett Bush (ankle), LB Brad Jones (hamstring), CB Casey Hayward (hamstring).
Did not play: WR Randall Cobb (bicep), S Sean Richardson (neck), CB Tramon Williams (knee), OL J.C. Tretter (ankle), OL Bryan Bulaga (knee), OL Derek Sherrod (leg), TE Matthew Mulligan (elbow), WR Jordy Nelson (knee), DL Jerel Worthy (knee), CB James Nixon (knee, ankle).
Returned: DL Datone Jones (ankle).


Hidden beyond the excitement of Vince Young’s second-half scrambling was a Green Bay Packers running game that struggled to muster anything that resembled offense in Friday night’s 17-10 loss to Seattle.

It didn’t matter whether it was DuJuan Harris, Eddie Lacy or Jim Taylor running the ball, the Packers’ backfield couldn’t touch the second level against the Seahawks, who kept their first-team defense in through the first series of the second half.

The Packers’ probable one-two backfield punch of DuJuan Harris and Eddie Lacy combined for minue-3 yards on 11 carries before Harris left in the first half with a knee injury sustained on the tail end of an 11-yard screen pass from Graham Harrell.

Third-stringer Johnathan Franklin didn’t fare much better. His four carries went for only 1 yard.

The team’s backfield combined for 36 yards on 20 carries (a 1.8-yard average), including an Alex Green 31-yard gain off a pitch from B.J. Coleman with 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

“I’m not quite sure. That’s always a question that’s better answered after we watch the film next week,” guard T.J. Lang said. “Obviously, looking at the stats, we definitely took a step back today. A couple penalties negated some good runs. That’s obviously something we take a lot of pride in moving the ball on the ground and we just didn’t get it done tonight. We’re going to have to do better.”

Young, the 30-year-old quarterback looking to win a job as Aaron Rodgers’ backup, toasted Seattle for 39 yards on three scrambles, but it wasn’t until Green’s carry that a Packers running back managed a carry of more than 5 yards.

One play before getting hurt, Harris was knocked back 5 yards on a run to the right. Lacy started the game with a carry for about 11 yards, but it was neutralized by a holding call on rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari.

The 5-foot-11, 230-pound Lacy, who had eight carries for 40 yards in his preseason debut against St. Louis, wasn’t able to forge much more on the following offensive drive. On his final play of the night, Lacy jumped on a lateral fumble for a 6-yard loss to finish with eight carries for minus-5 yards.

Harris was playing in his first preseason game after starting the preseason on the physically unable to perform list, but said afterward he aggravated the knee injury that put him there in the first place.

“We just have to go back to film and watch everything else. You can’t just blame it on one thing,” said Harris, who finished with three carries for 2 yards. “As a whole, we couldn’t really get it going. We started getting it going towards the end of the game, but we’ll be fine. We’ll get it together.”

Lang and right tackle Don Barclay were disappointed in the first-team offense’s inability to score a touchdown on the only series led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but they again put points on the board with an 11-play, 52-yard effort resulting in a Mason Crosby field goal from 38 yards, tying the game at 3.

Barclay, who received the start at right tackle ahead of fourth-year veteran Marshall Newhouse, still wants more as the offensive line prepares for next week’s preseason finale in Kansas City.

“Just upfront we have to stay on our blocks. We have to let Eddie or whoever is in there hit the hole,” Barclay said. “As an offense as a whole, we had a couple nice drives getting it down to the red zone, but we have to get better and finishes those and get seven (points) on it instead of points.

“We’ll watch this film. I think protection up front was decent as far as giving some time. We can probably fix some things here and there, but we just have to get better. We have to finish drives. That’s the biggest thing right now.”

Top draft pick returns

The Packers finally were able to see first-round rookie defensive lineman Datone Jones for more than one play.

The 6-foot-4, 295-pound rookie was back on the field despite aggravating his sprained ankle in practice on Wednesday, an injury that sprang up on his first defensive snap against Arizona two weeks ago.

There was some concern about Jones’ availability after he reinjured the ankle, but the rookie was on the field from the start as the only down lineman in the Packers’ bat formation during Seattle’s first series. He stayed in that role for the rest of the first half.

“This is just the start for me. Truly, this is my first preseason game, so there’s a lot of catching up I need to do,” Jones said. “It’s still preseason, but you have to play smart. There’s a long season coming up ahead, but at the same time you have to come out here and get reps and get ready for the long season.”

The cause for concern was that the 26th pick pick in April’s draft might follow in the footsteps of fifth-year defensive lineman B.J. Raji, who played 14 games his rookie season in 2009 but was hobbled most of the year by persistent ankle issues that sprouted early in the year.

Injury concerns

Three defensive starters — safety Morgan Burnett, cornerback Casey Hayward and inside linebacker Brad Jones — all sustained hamstring flare-ups that forced them out of Friday’s game.

Hayward was activated off the physically unable to perform list this week after badly pulling his hamstring before the start of camp.

Jarrett Bush also sat out of the game with an ankle injury, but McCarthy was hopeful the eighth-year cornerback might be able to practice this upcoming week.

Randall Cobb did not suit up for Friday night’s preseason game against Seattle despite early optimism from McCarthy that the wide receiver could play after missing the two previous games with a bicep injury.

Cobb returned to practice in a limited capacity on Wednesday, but the team continues to bring him back slowly from the injury, which has lingered throughout camp and forced him out of practice for a week.

Extra points

■ After a disastrous showing during Wednesday’s practice, Mason Crosby sailed a 38-yarder through the uprights to put the Packers on the board with 3:07 left in the first quarter.

It was a welcome performance after Crosby missed three consecutive attempts Wednesday, twice from 42 yards and once from 44.

“I got on a spot where I didn’t like the feel of it,” said Crosby of Wednesday’s 2-for-5 performance. “I was pushing it right and then over-corrected and went left … Fortunately, it’s camp and we’re competing, but fortunately it’s also practice and you have to work on things sometimes.

■ Alex Green didn’t know what his 31-yard run in the fourth quarter off a pitch would do for his chances at making the Packers’ 53-man roster, but isn't concerned about what next week’s cuts might mean for his future.

“At the end of the day, I had a blessed journey. I had a great time being here,” said Green, a third-round pick in 2011. “We’ll see what happens upstairs but I can’t worry about it too much. It’s going to happen regardless so there ain’t no point in worrying about it.”

■ Attendance was 74,030, which set the Lambeau Field record in the wake of the south end zone expansion.

— and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

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