In Cutting Harris, Packers Are Rolling the Dice

While dismantling Dallas on Sunday night, the Packers showed their strength at cornerback, with Woodson, Williams and Shields. For a second consecutive game, the trio shut down a passing attack and made big plays.

Meanwhile, the clock was ticking for Ted Thompson and the Packer brain trust. Al Harris either had to be activated, placed on IR or released on Monday. The play and health of the top three corners convinced them that Harris would be the fourth corner. Would he be okay with that? He's been a Pro Bowler, a vocal leader that might bristle watching an undrafted rookie listed ahead of him on the depth chart.

So they made the move and cut ties with him, deciding that a fourth cornerback who can't play on special teams removes some much-needed flexibility on a roster that has already been stretched to its breaking point. I can't fault the decision. The rash of injuries has affected the starting line-up and the special teams units, where a number of those guys are being asked to play regular snaps. Adding a nose tackle like Howard Green was a shrewd pick up by Thompson, but he probably won't be asked to cover kicks.

The problem with going down this road is you can't lose one of those top three corners. If one gets hurt, there would appear to be a significant drop off to Pat Lee, Brandon Underwood or, gasp, Jarrett Bush. The way this season has gone, it's hard to believe that position would go unscathed. And the Pack's D still has to face big arms like Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan and the gray-haired texter.

Many Packer fans are wringing their hands, worrying that the Vikings or Bears might pick him up. If nothing else, he could serve as a spy and provide plenty of recon on the Packers D. Or, he could prove that he still has some gas left in the tank. Until the devastating knee injury, he had never missed time. He's kept himself in great shape and has always been a workout warrior.

But the reality is, he will turn 36 in a few weeks. How many 36 year old CBs get significant snaps in the NFL these days? Then add a knee injury where all three ligaments were shredded, causing his surgeon to call it as bad a knee injury as he had ever seen. The likelihood that he can step onto an NFL field and produce at a high level is not too high.

The Pack made a tough decision here. Harris will one day be in the Packer Hall of Fame. He's been an integral part of a number of very good Packer teams. But injuries happen and they sometimes cause you to lose your job. Don Majkowski can tell him a thing or two about that. He'll get a chance somewhere to show whether he can come back.

The Packers are hoping/believing/crossing their fingers that their three top corners stay healthy. If they do the Harris decision will not be second-guessed, wherever he lands. But if one of those guys goes down, we might be wishing we could have found a way to hang on to a gritty, hard-nosed leader like Harris.


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