Sportscaster Al Michaels uttered the iconic phrase, “Do you believe in miracles?” three decades ago in response to the United States hockey team defeating the Soviet Union in the Winter Olympics at Lake Placid. Well, in our humble opinion, those five words will deserve to be repeated if Al Harris is able to recapture his Pro Bowl form next season. In fact, a 35-year-old corner coming back from a devestating knee injury to play at a high level would probably be even more unlikely than a bunch of college kids whipping a well-oiled veteran hockey machine on a frozen pond. That’s what Harris is up against, and that’s why Ted Thompson has to proceed as if the corner position is a major priority – and not just for the future but for right now.
Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams ended last season as the only capable corners on the roster. That’s one of the reasons why Pittsburgh and Arizona were able to carve up Green Bay’s secondary like Rex Ryan decimates a turkey on Thanksgiving Day. And while Harris, Pat Lee and Will Blackmon are all expected to return from injury in 2010, that shouldn’t make Thompson feel any more secure. “You can’t screw around when it comes to cornerbacks,” said a former scout. “After quarterback and left tackle, that’s probably the most important position in today’s NFL. You need at least four capable players. The Packers have only two right now. The way I look at things, any positive contributions they get next season from Harris, Lee, Blackmon or even [second-year man] Brandon Underwood should be viewed as a bonus and not as what can be expected.”
As for Harris, he’s been chronicling his recovery at the National Football Post website. Part IX was released a few days ago and Harris continues to make noticeable progress. However, until we see a video of him actually covering a top NFL wide receiver, what we’re watching is really nothing more than a nice home movie. Can Harris return to his pre-injury form? Well, people keep saying, “if anyone can do it, it would be him,” and they are right. But that doesn’t answer the question. In the history of the league, there have been very few 35-year-old starting corners. There have been even fewer 35-year-old starting corners playing on a newly-constructed knee. So while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with hoping for a miracle, you’re probably better off hoping for new players instead.