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Green Bay Packers had big plans for DuJuan Harris

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy has made no secret of his affection for running back DuJuan Harris, who on Tuesday was lost to season-ending injured reserve.

A second opinion confirmed that Harris will require surgery after re-injuring the patellar tendon in his right knee.

Although fantasy footballers were quick to bury the Packers' 2012 late-season find after general manager Ted Thompson picked up Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin in the 2013 NFL Draft, McCarthy steadfastly has maintained -- even through offseason cyst surgery and training-camp knee issues -- that Harris was his backfield leader.

It wasn't clear until Tuesday's news conference just how much Harris factored into McCarthy's offensive plans.

"Every offseason, you go through evaluations of your offense, you do offseason studies, you project how you envision your offense looking and then you kind of confirm things after the draft," McCarthy explained, via ESPNWisconsin.com's Jason Wilde. "You have a vision, packages in place on how you're going to start the season. I'll just tell you this: DuJuan was a big part of particularly my individual focus for this season.

"Last week was really the first opportunity to play DuJuan and Eddie Lacy in a game as kind of a 1-2 type punch format, and that has now changed."

The more we heard from McCarthy over the past few months, the more it became obvious that he had taken a vested interest in a plucky player who had gone from car salesman to starting running back on his watch.

With Lacy ready to assume featured-back duties, the Packers are in better shape to withstand the loss of Harris this year than of Cedric Benson one year ago. For the moment, at least, that's of little solace to McCarthy, whom beat writers described as more "obviously downtrodden" about losing Harris than any other player they can remember.

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