One blow to the chest could have been fatal. DuJuan Harris had a fist-sized cyst pressed against one of his lungs, and he didn't know it.

Looking back, one hit and that cyst "would have burst."

"I could have lost my life playing this game," Harris said. "I'm thankful for that, so I have to take advantage of this opportunity."

So, no, the 5-foot-7 Harris doesn't want your pity.

Eddie Lacy effectively left the former car salesman in the dust last season, rampaging his way to rookie of the year honors. Yet as Lacy held court with reporters after Thursday's practice during organized team activities, Harris was still here. Still standing, still smiling. A routine physical this time last year revealed the bulging cyst; he had it removed and then an injured patellar tendon landed Harris on season-ending injured reserve.

The man who entered camp as the No. 1 back could only watch as the Packers' running game awoke from the dead.

Now, it's a new season. He's healthy. The underdog zeal that got Harris here has not changed.

"I've been forgotten my whole career, man," Harris said. "It doesn't change my work ethic. It doesn't change how I prepare myself. I have to just come in every day and work."

He'll laugh about that word — "tweak" — now. Those first three weeks of training camp last year, Harris would only say he suffered a "tweak" of the knee. Hardly. The second day of OTAs, Harris damaged his patellar tendon, which holds the kneecap in place. He returned late in camp, aggravated the injury against Seattle in the preseason and then was forced to shut down.

Most of last year, Harris iced his knee and stayed off it. In the weight room, he could only work on his upper body — a point of frustration for the 203-pound rocket. In time, Harris was able to perform one-leg squats without weight. And when he returned to Green Bay, he could squat with 30-pound dumbbells.

Harris was able to run full speed on Day 1 of Green Bay's individual player workouts April 22.

So far, so good. Harris says he can do everything. He actually feels "stronger and faster" on the knee and notices a major difference in his breathing without the cyst, admitting he still needs to catch up mentally.