Training camp preview: Cornerbacks

Harris, Woodson form a vintage tandem that ranks among the best in the NFL, and they might get some help if the Packers emphasize pressuring the quarterback

Packers cornerback Charles Woodson recently introduced his own brand of wine, which seems fitting. Because even though he'll turn 32 on Oct. 7, his play has aged like a vintage wine.

At a combined age of 64 when training camp kicks off on July 28, Woodson and Al Harris might be the oldest starting cornerback duo in the NFL. And one of the best.

Harris earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl last season, but Woodson was the Packers' best cornerback. He intercepted four passes, allowed just one touchdown pass and finished fourth on the team in tackles.

Harris didn't have a bad year, though it might seem that way. You're only as good as your last game, and Harris' last game was miserable, especially by his proud and lofty standards. The Giants' Plaxico Burress overwhelmed Harris in the NFC title game, catching 11 passes for 151 yards. He was dominated by the Cowboys' Terrell Owens, as well.

Don't tell Woodson that he and Harris are getting old, though.

"I hear it all the time," Woodson said last month. "People always repeat what they hear on TV. You hear a lot of the sportscasters and those people speak about my age, Al's age, how we've maybe got another year left or whatever it is. You hear it all the time, so people repeat it when we're in the streets or around barbershops or whatever. I know I can still play. Al knows he can still play."

The Packers need them to "still play." Green Bay's defensive scheme calls on the cornerbacks to dominate in one-on-one coverage. Harris and Woodson might get some help in that regard if the Packers continue to attack the quarterback like they did during organized team activities and minicamp. It takes superhuman coverage skills to defend a receiver when the quarterback has all day in the pocket, which often was the case during the second half of last season. With added pass rush, Woodson and Harris won't have to be so good.

Presumably without Brett Favre, Harris is now the oldest player on the Packers' roster — he'll turn 34 on Dec. 7 — and Woodson is the third-oldest player on the team. Woodson seemed to sense that by spending the final two weeks of OTAs in Green Bay. It's a far cry from his first season in Green Bay, when he skipped the offseason program.

It seems being a Packer has grown on the cornerback and winemaker.

"Initially, I couldn't believe I was here," Woodson said. "I signed the contract, and that part of it was done, the money part of it was done, but then I actually got here and I was like, ‘How the hell did I end up in Green Bay?' But it's been a blessing. The last place I ever thought I'd be, the last place I told people I'd ever play. I'm here. And it's probably been the best thing that's happened to me since I've been in the league.

"I guess it's true — the Lord works in mysterious ways. I'm here, and it's all good."

Bill Huber writes for Packer Report. E-mail him at

Packer Report Top Stories