Packers to release Franklin due to career ending injury
GREEN BAY — The Green Bay Packers ended their offseason program Thursday with far from a full team on hand and with the grim revelation they now have a roster spot to fill.
Prompted with a question about the player toward the end of his news conference after the last minicamp practice this week, head coach Mike McCarthy announced second-year halfback Johnathan Franklin is done with the team.
“I have some unfortunate news about Johnathan Franklin,” McCarthy started with his response. “The organization will address this tomorrow. But, all of the information has come in, we’ve had a chance to sit down and talk to Johnathan the last couple days. He will not be back with us.”
The team is expected to waive Franklin after the medical staff didn’t clear him this spring to return from a neck injury he sustained in the overtime tie against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on Nov. 24 last season.
Franklin, who reportedly has yet to undergo surgery, posted a note on his Twitter feed Thursday afternoon. It read in part:
“... Our God has purpose, and paths set for all of us. First off I would like to thank everyone who has supported me upon getting to this part of my life (it) has been a tremendous blessing. Unfortunately, this week I have been ruled out of returning for the 2014/15 season and returning to play in the NFL. But I understand God knows what he is doing and for now he has another platform for me to step upon. I ask that you all pray for me during this transition, I will stay strong and keep my peace through Christ because he is my guider. But thank you all and God Bless.”
The Packers took Franklin, 24, in the fourth round of the 2013 draft out of UCLA.
Expectations were high upon his arrival that the speedy Franklin and the powerful Eddie Lacy, the team’s second-round pick last year, would form a dynamic duo in the backfield.
Franklin had a breakthrough performance of 13 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown in a relief role in Green Bay’s Week 3 loss at Cincinnati. However, he fell out of favor behind Lacy thereafter and had only six rushing attempts for four yards in the next eight games before succumbing to the season-ending injury.
“We were definitely sad,” Lacy said Thursday about receiving the news directly from Franklin via text message.
Even if Franklin were to have received the go-ahead to return to the field for training camp this summer, he would have been hard-pressed to stick with the team. Green Bay’s halfback corps includes Lacy, the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, as well as James Starks and DuJuan Harris, a promising second-year player who is healthy again after missing the entire 2013 season because of a knee injury.
“I can’t say enough about him as a person,” McCarthy said of Franklin, who has expressed aspirations about becoming the mayor of his native Los Angeles someday.
“He’s as classy as a young man that’s walked through these doors. Anybody that’s had a chance to get to know him just on and off the field, he’s a class act. You always remember his smile and his energy and so positive his outlook and just the way he handled this whole process of going through all the different tests and so forth.”