Defensive backs are stealing from Packers

Are you surprised that Charles Woodson, Marquand Manuel and Al Harris played more like rookies than highly-paid veterans Sunday against the Chicago Bears? You shouldn't be.'s Todd Korth explains why.

Al Harris, Charles Woodson and Marquand Manuel are supposed to be the foundation of Green Bay's secondary this season. Three veterans, all highly paid, who are expected to help the Packers defense be as good or better than it was last year when it ranked among the best in the National Football League.

About the only thing any of those three are good at so far for the Green Bay Packers is picking up their paychecks.

All three defensive backs were burned by injury-prone Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman in the Bears' 26-0 whipping of the Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday. Grossman completed 18 of 26 passes for 262 yards -- he was 12-of-16 for 184 yards in the first half, including a 49-yard touchdown to Bernard Berrian -- and wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad had six receptions for 102 yards. What's more, tight end Desmond Clark had his way with Green Bay's linebacker corps, catching five passes for 77 yards.

Muhammad made the NFC Pro Bowl squad a few years ago while with Carolina, but was AWOL last year in the Bears' offense. Berrian and Clark don't exactly scare many NFL defenses, but they haunted the Packers over and over in the season opener.

The Bears made it quite obvious that nobody in the Packers secondary or linebacking corps are on the same page. A lot of that boils down to an off-season where most of the secondary and linebacker corps never practiced together at the same time due to injuries, or plain ol' selfishness.

"We just gotta watch the film and exactly what it is we did," said Woodson. "The thing about it is you've got to be able to trust the person alongside you. If you're responsible for someone on the field, you've got to make sure everyone is on the same page. That's something we have to look at on film."

Hey, Charles, isn't that what the minicamps and Organized Team Activities are all about? While the rest of the Packers were practicing in May and June, Woodson was off counting his money in Houston, and working out on his own. Manuel was around, but injured and couldn't practice. Harris declined to attend the voluntary sessions because he wants a bigger contract.

All the film study in the world won't help the Packers if Woodson, Harris and Manuel don't start playing football - now. Woodson and Manuel have been on their own agenda since the day they signed their multi-million deals in the spring. You would think Harris would want to have an all-pro season, but wonder if he did all he could to prepare for it.

Woodson and Manuel have been very disappointing, thus far. Woodson signed off on a seven-year, $51 million contract that pays him nearly $10 million this season. He's earning more than $300,000 per game. Manuel, who has never had an interception in the regular season, got a $10 million deal that averages $2 million per season. All they have really done is steal money from the Packers instead of earn their paychecks. Their effort level, at least to the public, has been more of a cruise control level than overdrive.

With 15 games remaining, there is still time for the secondary to live up to expectations, but it surely is off to a suspicious start.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report. E-mail him at

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