Johnathan Franklin's NFL career ends with neck injury

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Johnathan Franklin spent just one year -- 11 games -- with the Packers before being forced to step away from football forever due to a neck injury.

Johnathan Franklin's NFL career is over after just one season. The Green Bay Packers running back, a 2013 fourth-round pick, sent an impassioned statement to media Thursday confirming the news. [Update: On Friday, the Packers announced the release of Franklin.]

Franklin had been curiously absent from Packers practice, as ESPN's Rob Demovsky noted Wednesday. Franklin suffered a neck injury in late November that landed the then-rookie on injured reserve. The Packers worried that since it was a neck injury, it could be career threatening. After putting the running back through tests, the worst was apparently determined.

Franklin went to Green Bay with grand expectations. He had been a captain at UCLA, and possessed an enviable overall skill set that the Packers couldn't pass up even after selecting Eddie Lacy out of Alabama in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

After tallying 2,057 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns during his final season with the Bruins, Franklin showed promise in Green Bay. He had 13 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown in the second half of a 34-30 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3. He had just six more carries in eight more games before hitting injured reserve, however, because of other injuries that caused him to fall down the depth chart.

On the field, the Packers should manage. As Acme Packing Company points out, however, losing Franklin could have a more profound, intangible impact on the team.

As far as the Packers are concerned, losing Franklin won't dramatically impact their plans this season. Eddie Lacy and James Starks remain the top two backs expected to handle the majority of the workload. DuJuan Harris has looked strong coming off an injury of his own, and now is in prime position to reclaim a roster spot.

Yet that doesn't numb the disappointment from the Franklin news. Whether you had high hopes for him or not coming out of college, you only heard great things about him as a person. He fought his way out of a rough part of Los Angeles to become a team captain at UCLA. It stinks that after all that work, Franklin's career ends after one year and 11 games.

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