There wasn’t a soul in Packers Nation who could have predicted that an undrafted rookie and a promoted practice-squad member doing time on his third NFL team would be the starting right tackle and starting running back, respectively, on a national stage in Green Bay’s 27-20 Week 14 victory over the Lions.
But not only did Don Barclay and diminutive DuJuan Harris manage to pull off that unlikely parlay, the way we hear it, both players also very well could provide valuable impacts on the road to the playoffs, although not necessarily as starters.
Start with Barclay, a blue-collar, undrafted rookie out of West Virginia who was pressed into service because of injuries suffered by starting ORT Bryan Bulaga, out for the season with a hip injury, and T.J. Lang, who shifted over from left guard to replace Bulaga before injuring his ankle a couple weeks ago vs. the Vikings.
Despite some problems in pass protection, the scrappy, competitive Barclay performed well enough consistently clearing holes against the Lions to lead many close team observers to believe he should remain entrenched at right tackle, with Lang moving back to left guard, where he is the first to admit he’s much more comfortable. Dating back to training camp, we’re told Barclay has never seemed overwhelmed and has continued to steadily improve with more playing time.
Harris, who was picked up off the street Oct. 24, came off the practice squad after Cedric Benson was officially shut down for the season (Lisfranc), and injury-prone James Starks suffered a knee injury. Thrust into a surprise starting role vs. the Lions, the 5-7, 203-pound scat pack picked up 11 yards on his first carry and never looked back, rushing seven times for 31 yards, including a 14-yard third-quarter TD.
Offering an impressive burst and elusive change of pace in the Packers’ suddenly multifaceted ground game, team sources tell us Harris most likely will become the third wheel down the stretch in Green Bay's ground game behind Alex Green and John Kuhn, who comes in on passing downs, and ahead of both recently re-signed Ryan Grant and Starks, whose status is a bit of a mystery at present.