Packers CB Harris: ‘Everyone around the league believes we are contenders’

Al Harris has been rehabbing his knee since injuring it in Week 11 last season.
Al Harris has been rehabbing his knee since injuring it in Week 11 last season.

It would be hard to fault Packers cornerback Al Harris, 35, if he hung up his helmet and cleats after sustaining a major knee injury late last season. Instead, Harris has worked hard on his rehabilitation and is on schedule to return to the field this season, though he is not ready to put an exact date on his return.

Harris, heading into his 13th NFL season, tore a ligament in his left knee Nov. 22 while covering 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Harris not only tore this ACL, but he also sustained damage to other knee ligaments and leg muscles. In a recent interview with Mark Kass of The Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee, Harris talked about his rehab, how hard it was to watch the Packers’ 51-45 playoff loss at Arizona and his expectations for the 2010 season.

Question: How is your rehab coming along? And will you be ready for the season opener?

Al Harris: It is going really well. My trainers have done an awesome job getting me to the point I’m at right now. It has been tough, but I knew it would take a lot of hard work and I’m willing to do whatever I have to in order to get back on the football field. I am not going to make any predictions about when I will be ready, but the rehab is going really well and everyone is pretty excited about where I am at.

Q: What has been the toughest part of the rehab process? And did you ever consider retiring?

AH: No, not at all. It has been hard. But I never gave (retiring) any thought at all. You always have your doubters from people in the media and public. I let them doubt me, and I know I am going to prove them wrong. I am confident I am going to have a great year on the field this year and show that I can come back from something like this.

Q: When you return to the field, do you think you will be nervous given what you have gone through?

AH: I’m looking forward to it. I’m pretty sure there will be some nerves, but this will be my 13th season, so I’m pretty comfortable on the football field.

Q: How disappointing was it to get injured and have to watch the Packers lose a 96-point shootout to the Cardinals in the playoffs?

AH: I was excited for them and proud to be part of a team that made it to the playoffs. The part that was hard was actually watching the game to see situations where I knew I could have helped. It was hard to watch when it was a regular-season game, but when it got to the playoffs it was so difficult. I love playing in the playoffs and to not be out there was very frustrating.

Q: When you were a rookie, did you think you would be able to play this long in the NFL?

AH: When I started, I had a number in my head, and it was right around where I am at. I’ve been fortunate to be coached by some really good guys who have helped me be successful in my career. Lionel Washington was pivotal in my success and was key in my crossing over into the type of player that I’ve become.

Q: Who is the toughest NFL receiver you ever have faced?

AH: Jimmy Smith (Jaguars, 1995-2005). He was really good. He didn’t give away his routes. When I learned he was retiring, I was like, "OK, that’s good for me."

Q: The Packers had a successful conversion to the 3-4 scheme last year but struggled at the end of the season against the pass. What must be done to remedy that?

AH: I leave that up to the defensive staff. I’m pretty sure they will make the necessary adjustments and get people in the right spots. We know we are a good defense, in fact one of the top defenses in the league last year. We had some breakdowns, but we have to learn from them and make sure we don’t let the same things happen this year.

Q: After making the playoffs last season, how far can this team go in 2010?

AH: I think we are contenders. I think everyone in the locker room and everyone around the league believes we are contenders. We have a very good young team with veteran guys in the right spots. I think we have a really good shot at going a long way this year.

Al Harris has been rehabbing his knee since injuring it in Week 11 last season.
Al Harris has been rehabbing his knee since injuring it in Week 11 last season.

It would be hard to fault Packers cornerback Al Harris, 35, if he hung up his helmet and cleats after sustaining a major knee injury late last season. Instead, Harris has worked hard on his rehabilitation and is on schedule to return to the field this season, though he is not ready to put an exact date on his return.

Harris, heading into his 13th NFL season, tore a ligament in his left knee Nov. 22 while covering 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Harris not only tore this ACL, but he also sustained damage to other knee ligaments and leg muscles. In a recent interview with Mark Kass of The Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee, Harris talked about his rehab, how hard it was to watch the Packers’ 51-45 playoff loss at Arizona and his expectations for the 2010 season.

Question: How is your rehab coming along? And will you be ready for the season opener?

Al Harris: It is going really well. My trainers have done an awesome job getting me to the point I’m at right now. It has been tough, but I knew it would take a lot of hard work and I’m willing to do whatever I have to in order to get back on the football field. I am not going to make any predictions about when I will be ready, but the rehab is going really well and everyone is pretty excited about where I am at.

Q: What has been the toughest part of the rehab process? And did you ever consider retiring?

AH: No, not at all. It has been hard. But I never gave (retiring) any thought at all. You always have your doubters from people in the media and public. I let them doubt me, and I know I am going to prove them wrong. I am confident I am going to have a great year on the field this year and show that I can come back from something like this.

Q: When you return to the field, do you think you will be nervous given what you have gone through?

AH: I’m looking forward to it. I’m pretty sure there will be some nerves, but this will be my 13th season, so I’m pretty comfortable on the football field.

Q: How disappointing was it to get injured and have to watch the Packers lose a 96-point shootout to the Cardinals in the playoffs?

AH: I was excited for them and proud to be part of a team that made it to the playoffs. The part that was hard was actually watching the game to see situations where I knew I could have helped. It was hard to watch when it was a regular-season game, but when it got to the playoffs it was so difficult. I love playing in the playoffs and to not be out there was very frustrating.

Q: When you were a rookie, did you think you would be able to play this long in the NFL?

AH: When I started, I had a number in my head, and it was right around where I am at. I’ve been fortunate to be coached by some really good guys who have helped me be successful in my career. Lionel Washington was pivotal in my success and was key in my crossing over into the type of player that I’ve become.

Q: Who is the toughest NFL receiver you ever have faced?

AH: Jimmy Smith (Jaguars, 1995-2005). He was really good. He didn’t give away his routes. When I learned he was retiring, I was like, "OK, that’s good for me."

Q: The Packers had a successful conversion to the 3-4 scheme last year but struggled at the end of the season against the pass. What must be done to remedy that?

AH: I leave that up to the defensive staff. I’m pretty sure they will make the necessary adjustments and get people in the right spots. We know we are a good defense, in fact one of the top defenses in the league last year. We had some breakdowns, but we have to learn from them and make sure we don’t let the same things happen this year.

Q: After making the playoffs last season, how far can this team go in 2010?

AH: I think we are contenders. I think everyone in the locker room and everyone around the league believes we are contenders. We have a very good young team with veteran guys in the right spots. I think we have a really good shot at going a long way this year.

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