Green Bay Packer Al Harris – Stay Tuned, The Proof is Coming Soon All Green Bay Packers All the Time

Few things have impressed me as much so far in 2010 as Green Bay Packers cornerback Al Harris and the You Tube videos of his injury rehab. Besides being a fantastic idea to let fans in on some great behind-the-scenes moments, could there be any better endorsement for Al Harris, the man?

When Harris went down with his injury during the 49er game, the whole Packers defensive dynamic changed, with Jarret Bush and Brandon Underwood suddenly being pressed into action. I wrote about it at the time, and how it would limit what Dom Capers would be able to do for the rest of the season.

It actually started right after Harris went down. As I wrote at the time, “Two plays after Harris went out, Capers blitzed Underwood and Woodson. The result; touchdown to Vernon Davis over the top on a vertical route, covered man-to-man by Clay Mathews with too-late help from Jarret Bush. After the game, Capers said he decided to stop calling for pressure packages at that point to keep Woodson exclusively on Vernon Davis.”

As we know now, the pattern would continue the rest of the season, with Capers’ hands being tied by not having the personnel to scheme the way he wanted to.

It could easily be said that the injury to Al Harris cost the Packers a real shot of advancing deep into the playoffs.  The trickle-down affect of his absence was even greater than I imagined at the time. We all tend to focus on the major event and don’t really think enough about the peripheral changes that result and the sometimes dire consequences that evolve.

Up until that 49er game, Al Harris had only missed four games in his 13 year NFL career. Harris is a strong believer in the  mind’s power to heal the body and plans on playing well into his late 30s. And he certainly doesn’t lack for confidence. Only two hours after suffering that season-ending injury, he swore to his agent that he’ll be back in 6 months. He was already formulating a rehab plan in his head and aggressively promising a 100% recovery.

The reality of the situation, however, is that this was a catastrophic, possibly career-ending injury to Al Harris. He did considerable damage to the lateral side of his left knee – torn anterior cruciate ligament, torn lateral collateral ligament, torn Iliotibial band and hamstring. Packers team physician Patrick McKenzie, who performed the operation, told Harris that if there had been any previous damage to the knee, he would have advised Al to call it quits.

But since the knee was in good shape previous to the injury, Al could soldier on. Harris is a driven man, always looking to prove the doubters wrong, and never wanting to “leave money on the table.”

A month after the first surgery, the knee had tightened up severely. Harris went in for a second procedure where he was put under so the doctors could stretch his knee and break up the scar tissue. After that, the rehab would commence.

It started with simply learning to walk again. Then undergoing a series of resistance exercises to improve the knee’s range of motion. That’s where the famous towel came in.

You see it in this first video, where Al uses a “bite towel” to muffle any howling, screaming or expletives, and that’s just when he’s on a table trying to bend his knee a little further than it wants to.

By the time you get to video 3 (week 3), Al’s knee is really being pushed harder in the gym.  In the video, Harris is asked why he wants to come back. “I have 2 more years left on my contract and I’m a man of my word, I live by principles. I have to fulfill that part of the deal.” He then pauses and smilingly says “and you can’t leave the money on the table.”

In video 7 (week 7), Harris’ knee shows a much improved range of motion and he’s able to execute a series of footwork, change of direction and positional drills. Amazing progress, but in his own words, the knee is still only at  50% strength.

I highly recommend watching all seven of these videos in order, ( see them here ) and you’ll get a great look at the week-by-week progress being made and the incredible work ethic Al Harris has. Harris hasn’t wavered from his 6 month recovery prediction. I’m still doubtful that he can accomplished that, but then again, I’m just the type of guy Al Harris wants to prove wrong. I hope he can.

As the song you hear in the video says;  stay tuned, the proof is coming soon…


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Jersey Al Bracco is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for You can find more of Jersey Al ’s articles on several sports web sites: NFL Touchdown , Packers Lounge , Packer Chatters & Bleacher Report .

43 thoughts on “Green Bay Packer Al Harris – Stay Tuned, The Proof is Coming Soon

  1. Hey Al, chaging topics for a moment…

    Wasn’t Cel. Bob Sanders fired because he lost 2 pieces of his DL, got his hands tied of what he could bring and didnd’t adjust??? I’m just saying…

    Capers isn’t feeling the fire because he did fix the run D… But if he fails to adjust against veteran, quick-delivery QBs, no matter who’s down, he needs to be fired IMHO…

    1. Fired? Wow, that’s harsh. You’re talking about one of the NFL’s most proven and successful defensive coordinators. I think he did as good a job as could have been done.

      1. Like I said, my opinion, and I though his first season was partally sucesfull.

        But I feel that we lost that AZ game in the gameplan. Warner was releasing the ball in 3 step drops. I don’t remember our corners ever jamming their receivers, which would’ve helped our pass rush to get to Warner.

        When you contrast the Packers’ D personel and the Saints D personel, I don’t think it can be said that they have better players overall. What can be said is that they gameplanned and executed much better than us against the elite QBs… It only makes matters worse that Capers was asleep in the booth…

        I hope you’re right, that he can adjust better this year… But his history is to decline after the first season. Let’s hope it’s not the case with us…

        1. The difference between the Packers D and the Saints D is that the Saints front seven can all get after the quarterback. They bring pressure up the middle, from the outsides, from every direction. The Packers had one player in their front seven that can get after the quarterback and NO pressure up the middle.

          That was the difference between the Saints and the Packers. You’re right, the Saints didn’t necessarily have better overall personnel, but as a team, they pressured the opposing quarterbacks consistently. You saw that in every playoff game they played. It’s no accident they won the Super Bowl.

  2. I only saw part seven, and I’m already convinced he’s going to be back and capable of playing the nickelback WELL for the start of 2010. Can he make it through an entire season? Not sure. But I am reverting to my previous position that we are fine at corner—not only are Lee, Underwood, and Blackmon all capable of playing dime if they can stay healthy (and only one has to if there’s no injury to the top three), but one might be able to step up to nickel by the end of the year if Al is hurt again.
    That being said, I still want to draft Kyle Wilson. We will need someone ready to start in a couple years, and he can upgrade the dimeback and play on special teams right now.

    1. Flip-flopping again? You should be a politician!

      As impressive as these videos are, I still don’t think he’ll be ready by week one and even then, it usually takes longer to get your full speed back. It took Barnett half of last season before he started to look like his old self, and his recovery is now held up as a model of a best case scenario. Harris’ injury was far more severe.

      Kyle Wilson doesn’t meet the Packers height “requirements”, but the special teams help would be a plus. McCourty would be a better fit, but most likely the Packers will be taking a CB in round 2 or 3.

      And BTW, you have to watch Part 1 to see “the towel.”

  3. Nice post, Al.

    The most remarkable aspect of those videos is how quickly Harris is back doing speed and agility drills. Initially, I had my doubts about when he would be able to return to the defense, but as I watch him and his work ethic, I am beginning to think we will see him back to full strength by midseason. In the meantime, we need one of the young corners to step up and allow Harris the time he needs to make it back to full strength.

    Is Pat Lee or Will Blackmon the answer? Maybe. I don’t know what to expect from either of these two, but I do think the fans need to have patience with them. After all, even Nnamdi Asomugha wasn’t Nnamdi Asomugha his first couple of years. I’m just sayin.

    1. yes, seeing him doing those drills and the coverage drills where he is backpedaling and then turns to cover, it’s hard to believe he can do that already and look pretty fluid. I think Mid-season is a realistic return goal for Harris, but he’s determined to make it game 1. If he can’t, it certainly won’t be from lack of effort.

      Blackmon has always been so-so as a cornerback and who knows about Pat Lee? I happen to think Josh Bell could be the pleasant surprise for the Packers…

  4. Anyone who can come back from a spleen injury in 4 weeks is super human. I would not doubt if we see Al Harris starting before game 5, maybe sooner.

    GB needs him the drop off in the DB with him on the bench if dramatic. The backups (except Williams) are not very good. A couple of ok’s, a couple of injury questions and the rest awful. Worse yet, Williams and Bigby are playing contract games to please their agents. And of course old TT has done nothing in the FA or trade markets.

    Update still no O line changes!

    1. So… If Harris is super human, and Charles Woodson already is SuperMan, what does that makes him?

        1. Let’s not get that far… I’d be content with an ordinary superhero, but Adderley is a tad too much…

  5. Thanks for putting this all together in one place and for the your honest view of the situation. I’ve been following the weekly videos religiously and am simply amazed with the dedication and work ethic being displayed here. Not only by Mr. Harris, but the whole rehab team. No one would have believed when Harris was injured that this amount of progress would be attained so quickly. It’s a testament to everyone involved. As a dedicated fan of his, I knew the Pack was literally screwed when he went down, and recognized that the impact of his absence would be felt throughout the entire defense.
    That being said, I have also “bothered” Mr. Harris with daily tweets of encouragement to let him know that his fans are behind him 1000%. Whether he reads them or not is not known nor does it really matter, but I hope he does know that there are fans out here that truly admire him, and hope and pray all his goals are achieved. What little I know of him by reading articles filed regarding some of the challenges presented to his family members left me with no doubt that if there was a way to overcome, he would find it.
    We’re blessed to be able to watch him during football season. We’re fortunate that he’s on our team.

  6. PackersRS, you’re a hard guy to please. “Partially successful?” I think last year’s defense was a gift from above! Yes, I’m well aware that we did fall flat against 3 of the best QBs in the league. But one year is really too soon to judge the switch to Capers and his 34. If they can’t fix last year’s problems against the quicker-releasing passers, that’s obviously a “fail.” But how many of those guys had ever played a 34 before? I think, in some ways, the fact that Capers managed to get the performance that he did in the first year of the change is somewhat remarkable. Heck, I’m willing to give him a pretty big pass just based on the fact that some guys named Jarrett Bush and Matt Giordano were getting a lot of playing time at the end of the year. Seriously…Warner to Fitzgerald against Matt Giordano? Gee, I wonder how THAT’S gonna turn out…

    Like I said, if they don’t fix what they need to fix, it’ll end up being looked at as a bad move. But I just see so many more positives from last year’s D than negatives.

    1. I said partially sucessful because, in the end, it was the D that costed us.

      In 08, the D failed to get us to the playoffs.

      In 09, it failed to move us past the wildcard round.

      I don’t know how anyone can look at a 45 points, 87,9% QB completion and say that it was sucessful.

      Can you honestly put those astonishing numbers solely on Bush’ and Giordano’s responsibility? I for one, looking at the game tape, cannot. The Saints lost players on D also, so did the Colts. They adjusted.

      As I said, I think it was a partial sucess, but let’s not pretend we have the Chiefs’ talent at D and that Capers made a miracle. He did a great job against inexperienced QBs, a wonderful job against the run, and a terrible job against veteran QBs.

      Capers was absent 2 years from being DC. His last job was at a terrible Miami team.


      He has merits. My point was, if it’s Bob Sanders’ D that gets torched the way it did, he’s out on the streets. Let’s not forget what he did when the D was healthy in 07.

      Capers, deservedly so, didn’t get fired. I’m happy he’s our DC. But he shouldn’t be getting a free pass, with the notion that the talent level is to blame. He has a big share of fault on our loss, and if he’s unable to correct such flaws, he deserves to get the same treatment Bob Sanders received.

      It’s unconceivable that a QB with a mediocre OL gets to complete more than 85% of his passes and score 45 points in our D. Let alone during postseason. Not with the kind of talent we have, even with Bush and Giordano playing…

      1. When the Saint secondary suffered injuries, the Saint’s GM went out and brought in 3 veteran cornerbacks. The Packers brought in Josh Bell.

  7. I too was a little reluctant to sing the praises of our defense, our stats look good, but our schedule had an awful lot of teams with 5 wins or fewer.

    The vikings, Steelers, and Cardinal games speak volumes. The problem with our defense is not the secondary, the secondary can boast to probowlers and the DMVP. We were able to stop the run, but went the other direction against the pass. I am not sure if the 2008 defensive unit gave up over 1000 yards in 2 games.

    The heart and soul of a 3-4 defense is the LBs. IMO we have 2 positions filled, Barnett and Mathews. Hawk is average at best and has limitations. Chillar/Bishop are great for depth at the position, but not going to take this team to the next level. The OLB is also a concern, can Jones continue to excel?

    Bottom line we have to get good and consistent pass rush from our front 7, If we can do that we will make Bush look good and AL Harris can limp around with one leg and be effective.

    1. And that is why I have come around to the idea of drafting a pass-rushing OLB with the #23 pick, an OT second and then a CB & S.

  8. Like I said, there are just a lot more positives than negatives with the switch. First of all, did the D improve from 2008 to 2009? YES. And if Bob Sanders’ D would have improved from ’08 to last year’s D, there is no way he would have been fired. Don’t even tell me you’re saying Capers should be fired.

    How many guys on last year’s team ever played on a 34? We didn’t have a single LB on the ’08 squad that, in my opinion, was even a decent pass rusher (I still don’t think any of our ILBs are, either). So, 2009 brings in an unfamiliar scheme, with no decent pass rushing LBs, and a GM that brought in exactly one vet from a 34 (who was subsequently cut). So they go out and throw up the #1 rush D, when the Pack CHRONICALLY could not stop the run. That means something. Look, I’m not saying Giordano and Bush were SOLELY responsible for anything. But they absolutely suck. And that ain’t Capers’ problem. It’s Thompson’s problem.

    Am I saying Dom is perfect? Hardly. He needed to take a lot more chances with blitzes in the games we got torched. I mean, why not? Nothing else was working. But I truly believe Dom squeezed about as much as he possibly could out of the guys that were taking the field last year. And I’m dying to see how good this D will be with another pass rusher, wherever that guy might come from.

    1. Thank you for bringing up the point that Capers had a roster full of 4-3 players to try to “convert”. I forgot to bring that up myself.

  9. Capers did a fine job with this defense , given the players he had … We had an astronomical change in quality and performance of this defense .. We sported the DMVP .. and much of the increase in performance attributed to charles woodson can be directly correllated to the strength of capers scheme .. Due to these reasons and many more .. Calling for capers head at this point is way over the top.. You dont generally have the defensive MVP come out of almost no where if your defensive coach is not stellar.. Woodson was good but not MVP good .. He seemed to be in Palamalu’s role to me in a way though.. I wonder what would become of woodson if we had some one like a poor mans Palamalu on this defense … It almost makes one wonder if we dont need a better safety that can fit that role …

    Also , it was said that the defense cost us in the Arizona game.. this is not totally the case as we had a bum call at the end of the game that helped the cardinals cause greatly … Packer fans and especially our QB dont cry over stuff like that …. but we probably got screwed a bit in that game …
    As was stated before .. Bush and Giordano are both jokes and they were playing quite a bit at the end of the year .. In reality our defensive coordinator did a fabulous job with this defense …. sure we had some bad games against some HOF qb’s but we we’re not pathetic on defense last year like we were in 08.. especially against the run… Capers does appear to be paranoid against the run … he made some bad calls here and there .. because he was being conservative .. but overall I think most of us would give him a solid 9 grade for what he did with our defense last year ….

    I am skeptical of an early return by AL Harris and even if he does return .. I think the coaches are going to give a long look at Williams as our starter this year… We obviously need to draft a DB high this year but I dont think it should be in the first … The reason for this is that we need a few impact players .. especially a second pass rusher .. IF we plan on making a solid super bowl run ..

    IF we can somehow pick up a top pass rusher at LOlb and also get a safety in here that can rush the passer… Imagine where we can go with this defense…

    1. I’m with you on all counts, Tara. Capers’ hands were tied in those late games and to suggest he could somehow turn water into wine is asking a bit much. Because of the personnel issues, he had to make some scheme concessions and got the most out of what he had.

      1. I just want a statement from anyone saying that bumping AZ’s receivers (something the Packers’ corners were natural at) wouldn’t have benefited the defense.

        I just want a statement saying that Capers did his best, and that with the personel we had, there was absolutely no way that we could’ve stopped Warner from completing more tha 85% of his passes and putting 45 points.

        Remember, I’m not asking for a D to shut down Warner. I’m asking for a D to not allow 45 points and 85% completion…

        1. When a team overloads a side with 4 receivers and has them going in all different directions, it’s pretty difficult to play “bump”. It’s not like you have simple one-on-one matchups.

          Capers tried blitzing early – remember how the game went early on? Remember Cardinals 31, Packers 10? He had no choice but to stop trying to blitz and play back in coverage. The result was the Packers defense finally got some stops and held the Cardinals offense to only 7 points after that.

          So here it is:
          Capers did his best and with the personnel he had, there was nothing else he could have done. At some point, players have to be able to cover and tackle.

          1. If so, why is everyone so quiet? We should be slamming at TT’s door, clamoring for him to pick FAs. Harris is down, if he doesn’t come back to full health, and someone else goes down, we’re doomed. We’ll allow 500 yards and 45 points per game!!!

            I just can’t believe you said that, Al. That Capers couldn’t have done NOTHING DIFFERENT to NOT ALLOW 45 freaking points.

            And they were without Anquan Boldin! Imagine if we had played the Saints or the Colts! It’d be 553 points to them! They’d only have to align 4 wides in the same side all the time!

            C’mon, man. To me it’s so clear that we could’ve bumped their receivers almost every snap, and it’d have helped tremenduously. If they fail to score ONE MORE we win the game. I believe they only failed to score 3 times, in all their possessions. And one of them was a missed, easy FG.

            1. LOL I knew you would enjoy that. Here’s the problem. You’re being emotional and going off of memory. You’re making it sound like Capers did not change anything during the game and that’s just not the case. I’ve watched it multiple times. He tried changing approaches 3 times. Nothing was working with the personnel he had. He finally found some success in the 3rd quarter, and then Bigby goes down. Capers picked the lesser of the evils – that’s all he could do at that point.

              1. Re-watching the game, you’re right. Partially.

                You’re right, in that he tried multiple approaches (never said he didn’t), and that the players weren’t responding. That wasn’t his fault.

                What was his fault, however, was that this was not the first game we got torched. It was not the first time teams bunched up against us. It was not the first time that teams were utilizing fast-paced offenses against us.

                I know it sounds mystic, but he should’ve figured out a way to at least contain it. And he didn’t.

                Like you said yourself, he did find it in the 3rd quarter. Why not before? He failed to preparate.

                Greg Williams was also getting torched by Favre and Warner. But he figured something out that Capers didn’t. Yes, it helped that his team could generate more pressure with less personel, but that’s not the principle. He just played a more physical game (not more aggressive, more physical), and that’s approach.

                While Capers was too worried about getting burned in the sidelines (which he did anyway), he forgot about the middle of the field.

                Do you think he’d approach the game the same way, if he’d play it again? I don’t think so.

  10. Hey, I agree that Capers should have tried up some different stuff in the games we got torched. I’m sure I wrote that somewhere up the page.

    And I never said he was perfect. But how do you bump and run against WRs in motion? How do you bump and run a stacked receiver set? (THAT is the one set that killed our D all year long, by the way. Not just that game). You can’t bump stacked receivers or guys in motion, and it’s very difficult to bump when there are more than 2 guys on one side. If you try that, it’s too easy for the WRs to rub their guy off on another dback, or even another WR. The risk is too great…if you screw up the jam, there’s nobody behind you except Jarrett Bush and/or Matt Giordano. And our best bump and run CB was on IR (the subject of this original post). Has Tramon Williams every played bump and run CB? Has Jarrett Bush? (HA!!) Dude, you know what would have happened if Jarrett Bush tried to jam Early Doucet at the line…he would have been chasing him from behind all the way to the end zone.

    All I’m saying is that the switch, overall, was a great success. And if our GM would have found better dback depth and a LOLB to complement CM3, I don’t think we give up 553 points.

    1. First off, I’ve said so that the transition was a sucess. I did say that the FIRST SEASON was partially sucesfull. To me when you exit the playoffs BECAUSE of the defense, then it’s not a trully sucesfull season.

      And I completely agree, that if we had picked up some veteran CBs instead of Bush, we probably wouldn’t have allowed 500 yards. If we could’ve generated more pass rush…

      And, reviewing the game, Al is right. I was writing from emotion. And they played bunch and motion all game, we couldn’t have bumped them.

      Most of the failure was on the players. Lack of quality tackling, terrible coverage.

      I just think that, when it’s not a single individual that failed, but the whole team coverage, in almost every single snap, it’s the coaches fault.

      I just find it hard to believe that they got so lucky that almost every offensive play the dialed up happened to explore the weakness of the defensive play called. It only makes matters worse that he was sound asleep in the boot. (Yeah, I cannot let that one go).

      1. I say you have to give Capers a pass on this one. If the same thing happens this year, then you’ll have every reason to rant.

        1. A pass? I don’t know about a pass.

          I think they adresses it the way it needed to be. Reports are TT and MM talked to him about the game and about ways of doing it differently and correcting it for next season.

          I think I didn’t express myself correctly. I didn’t ask for his release because of last year. I said that, because he did a good job, despite the games against elite QBs, he should’ve, as he did, kept his job.

          What I mentioned is that for fans, if it was Cel. Sanders’ D, he would’ve been fired instantly, for lack of adaptation. Remember, Sanders’ D didn’t have as much as 5 starters.

          And that, if this trend of failing against elite QBs, in this manner, repeats itself, THEN he should be fired.

          To clear it out, it’s too convenient to say that if we’d gotten Greg williams, we’d be champions. I don’t think that.

          What I think is that Capers failed to prepare and adjust for those games, because I know he’s much more talented than what he showed on those games.

          I have faith in him, that he’ll finalize the change to the 3-4, and turn this team into champions.

          But I preach that, if he can’t, that he receives the same treatment that his predecessor did…

          1. Sanders was with the Packers 4 years, 3 as defensive coordinator. Capers just one year. You can’t make a comparison between the two. Not fair to Capers, only one year into a major scheme transition with a roster predominantly of 4-3 players.

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