Without a clear cut back up for starting RB Carlos Hyde, DuJuan Harris sees the competition as a way of life. Harris only played two games as a member of the San Francisco 49ers in 2015 but showed a lot of promise for a player who is on his 4th team in his six years in the league.
In his two games, Harris ran for 140 yards in 27 attempts for an average of 5.2 yards per carry. He also recorded 9 receptions for 97 yards for an average of 10.8 yards. He was pleased with his production but disappointed that he never made it into the end zone. He has two career rushing touchdowns that he made in 2012 as a member of the Green Bay Packers.
Darren Sproles, who has similar characteristics to Harris, ran for 329 yards on 57 attempts with a 5.8 yard average and 6 TDs in 2014 under Chip Kelly. He followed that with 317 yards on 83 attempts, 3.8 yard average and 3 TDs in 2015. He was also used heavily as a receiver, recording 95 catches for 775 yards (8.1+ yard average) over his two years under Kelly.
OC Curtis Modkins spoke about Harris in his media availability during OTAs.
I think DuJuan brings a little bit of juice. He has some start-stop, some explosion type stuff that he has. We're excited about seeing how he develops.
Harris spoke to the media during OTAs. You can watch the full video here.
Is this the most running you've done, especially for this time of year?
For an offense, yes. It's pretty fast paced. I haven't ran like this since college. Other than that it's been huddled offenses and pro-style.
Does this offense suit you?
I think so. It's headed downhill you know, it's quick hitters. Like I said, I ran in that type of offense in college under Tony Franklin.
Do you expect for a lot of running backs to be used in this system?
I think so. It's a pretty fast pace. Guys are going to get tired and we're going to need some more horses to carry the load.
Does this fast pace and the multi receivers sets suit you too because it gets you out in space?
Yeah, it does. We're working out there also, we learn the routes for receivers also, just in case we need to be out there. Whatever we can do to help the team, that's what we're going to do.
Are you doing things similar to what Darren Sproles did out in Philly?
We really don't have set rules but we are just trying to run our offense now. Whichever guy you use for certain situations, you just gotta be prepared for it.
Chip Kelly has had some success with smaller guys like Sproles and LaMichael James in Oregon. Has that captured your attention?
Yeah, I thought about it. I also have to do my job. I can't just keep coming out here and having MAs (missed assignments) and dropping the ball and everything else and they still stick me in there in that position. So, I still gotta come out here and do my job every day. You know, I'm 5'7 and Sproles is what, 5'6? Little guy, you know, he played that role, we'll see if that's my role also.
You're so much bigger than him. (laughter)
You were out there fielding returns today, have you done that in the past?
Yes, I've done that pretty much my whole career. Started in Jacksonville and went to Green Bay, so, kick off return.
You've been around a little while.
Yeah, I'm on year six. It's crazy.
You've been exposed to a lot of coaches. Now you have RB guys, Tom Rathman and Modkins. Do you pick up stuff from those guys?
Yeah, definitely. You learn stuff in this league every day. Come to work, you learn something. I learn a lot from...I had a lot of great running back coaches my whole career. You learn something every year. That's something I've been doing.
Is there something that you learned this year in particular?
Just understanding the game. You know, having a better understanding of reading defenses better. I've been doing it my whole career but it's something you still gotta work on and the better you get at it, the better player you are.
Is there any carry over from what you learned last year to this year since you have the same coach?
I was only here two weeks so, um (laughter) so what was in the offense then that's what we did. They didn't really try to add a whole bunch of stuff on me then, they tried to make it real simple. So, a lot of stuff they talk about from last year, usually have the older guys, well, the guys that have been here before, I'm saying the older guys, I'm one of the older guys....they usually have the guys who have been here before answering those questions.
In a system like this, before the play, is your job pretty straight forward or do do you adjust?
We still have adjustments. Everyone still has adjustments. Just gotta go through your rules, go through your fundamentals.
What are you going to do during the break to prepare for Chip Kelly during training camp?
Well, I'm going to take a little break, and once we get a little break, I'm going to head home, to the family, and I have a Total Gym so I'm going to get my Chuck Norris on a little bit, but nah I'm going to be training back in Florida and go to Atlanta also, sometime in July.
You had a number of big plays last year. Were you pleased with you your performance last season given that you were still figuring things out?
I didn't score, you know, I didn't score. I put up some decent numbers but I didn't score.
I wasn't going to mention that.
(Laughter) Yeah. I did my job when I needed to. I didn't get a chance to score but I feel like I still tried to do my part.
Do you feel more stable here than in other situations?
No. I'm never going to be stable. You never know in this league, man. I just gotta come in and not think about it, just come in and do what you have to do. Do your job until they're ready for you to be out of here, you know? So, that day is going to come for everyone. Even if you've been in the league for 13 years or three years. That day is eventually going to come. So, you just gotta enjoy it, enjoy it the best you can.