GREEN BAY – Johnathan Franklin hasn’t spent much of his football life standing on a sideline in full uniform, but that’s exactly what the Green Bay Packers rookie running back did in last Sunday’s regular-season opener at San Francisco. He and backup quarterback Seneca Wallace were the only two Packers who were active for the game and did not play.
After an uneven preseason, the fourth-round pick from UCLA stuck on the 53-man roster based more on potential than performance. Only two rookie fourth-round picks were released league-wide this summer, and given general manager Ted Thompson’s affinity for his draft picks, Franklin’s roster spot was never in danger, despite rushing 21 times for just 47 yards (2.2-yard average) in preseason play.
“Life is a struggle,” Franklin said Thursday afternoon. “I had my hard times at UCLA as well.”
The downtime might be good for Franklin, though, as he’s able to observe and not be rushed into action. He figures to be active every week – coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t want to go into a game with only two true halfbacks active – but his role figures to be limited for now.
“I think so. It allows him to come a little slower. It’s not as rushed to get him ready to go,” running backs coach Alex Van Pelt replied when asked if this might benefit Franklin. “I think he is ready. I think he will help us this year. He’ll definitely contribute on the offensive side of the ball. He’s got a unique talent and ability in space. Going into that San Fran game, it was probably good for him to sit and kind of watch the other guys. As the season goes on, he’ll probably ask more of him.”
For his part, Franklin isn’t complaining.
“Man, I’m blessed to be here. God will put me out there when he puts me out there,” he said. “I’m going to enjoy this life. You only get one life. This is the only shot I’ve got at living. So I ain’t got no time to be down, ain’t got no time to be disappointed. I’m going to enjoy this life and be blessed. I’m living the dream, regardless of whether I was out there last week or not. So many people would love to be in my shoes, but they’re not. So all I can do is do my part, praying and keep living life.”
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