Al Harris is unhappy with his contract. Charles Woodson was nowhere to be found during voluntary practices this off-season. In their starting cornerbacks, the Packers have potential "cancers" in the locker room, and two players who have the potential to make the NFC Pro Bowl squad. The Packers are hoping for the latter, but stay tuned for more during training camp.
On paper, the Packers have upgraded the cornerback position by signing Woodson to a seven-year, $52 million deal in April. Woodson, who played for the Oakland Raiders since he was taken fourth overall in the 1998 NFL draft, will take over for the ineffective Ahmad Carroll. Harris, a ninth-year pro and Pro Bowl alternate last year, will man the other side.
Just when all appeared well in the defensive backfield in early May, both Harris and Woodson pulled a disappearing act on the Packers. Both participated in the team's mandatory post-draft mini-camp, but haven't been in Green Bay since. Harris did not attend the team's second mini-camp and 14-practice Organized Team Activities session because he is not happy with his contract. Woodson simply chose not to attend the voluntary practices, opting for the vacation time. Their absence did nothing toward team chemistry and left the coaching staff and teammates with uncertainty.
Harris, 30, has threatened not to report to the start of training camp. He has three years remaining on an $18.6 million deal that he signed less than two years ago. He feels he is underpaid by today's standards. Woodson, who turns 30 in October, is coming off a broken leg that sidelined him for 10 games last year. He earned a combined $19.3 million as Oakland's franchise player the past two seasons before hitting the open market. Money is not an issue with Woodson, but whether he can remain healthy is a concern. He has only played in all 16 games once (2003) in the last four seasons.
Carroll, inconsistent in his first two seasons, saw extended reps during the mini-camps and OTA's due to the absence of Harris and Woodson. He is expected to play in passing defenses and also use his speed to return kickoffs.
Will Blackmon sustained a broken bone in his foot during the final practice of the May 19-21 mini-camp and was unable to participate in the OTA practices. The Packers selected Blackmon with the second of two fourth-round picks in the recent NFL draft. A star on both sides of the ball at Boston College, Blackmon likely will be relegated to playing in the team's passing defenses as a rookie.
Second-year pro Mike Hawkins, who showed some promise last year, has the inside track for the fifth cornerback spot. Hawkins played in 11 games, mainly as an extra defensive back, with one start last year. Like Carroll, Hawkins also has superb speed, but still needs to improve on football instincts.
There is a chance that the Packers may give up on Carroll, which could leave the door open for Jason Horton, Jerron Wishom, Therrian Fontenot and Patrick Dendy. All were with the team last season, either on the practice squad or on the active roster at different points of the season. Of the four, Horton has the most experience and best chance of making the final roster. He was bothered by a shoulder injury throughout last season and finished the year on injured reserve.