Falling into place

It's Valentine's Day, and already the Green Bay Packers' off-season is looking, well, very rosy. How appropriate. PackerReport.com's Todd Korth comments on how Al Harris' contract extension is another indication of an already productive off-season for the Green Bay Packers.

Brett's back. Al Harris is happy, and even the team's longtime long snapper Rob Davis has committed to the Green Bay Packers in 2007. What do all three of these veterans have in common besides football? They are sold on Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy's plan.

The Packers showed in 2006 that they are a few impact players away from making the NFC playoffs. If they weren't that close, or if it appeared that the Packers were going to have a mess of a year ahead, they probably wouldn't be where they are at right now with personnel. In other words, Favre may still be plucking daisy petals trying to decide to return or not. Harris may have demanded more money than what the Packers gave him. Davis, who re-signed in January, may have opted to test free agency and get as much as possible from a different team as his impressive career nears an end.

That's not the case, however. The feeling now around Green Bay is somewhat similar to the mid-1990s when veterans wanted to play in Green Bay because they knew the Packers had a legitimate chance of winning the Super Bowl. Some unrestricted free agents accepted less than what other teams offered for a chance at a ring. Some players, like Favre and Le Roy Butler, restructured their deals to make room for other impact players. The Packers had a good thing going, and now is sure seems like deja vu all over again under Thompson and McCarthy. At least at this early point in the off-season.

The Packers are still long shots to win Super Bowl XLII, but making the playoffs is more of a reality this season than last season. Now if Harris and his counterpart, Charles Woodson, can attend some of the team's voluntary minicamp practices in May and June, chances are they can help the defense pick up where it left off last season. Harris and Woodson were able to overcome a unproductive start to last season with a strong finish, but if the Packers are going to make the playoffs, they have to start stronger in 2007. A record of 1-4 or 4-8 won't cut it.

The start of free agency is still more than two weeks away, but the Packers are off to a running start. Speaking of runners, let's hope re-signing Ahman Green is next on the agenda for Thompson and Co. With the way other veterans have acted thus far, it seems logical that the veteran running back also will be back with the Pack.

Todd Korth

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.

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