McCarthy and agent: Don't rule out Harris

Agent Jack Bechta said the cornerback wanted the spleen removed in hopes of playing this week. That won't happen, but it appears season-ending surgery may not be necessary.

Al Harris is listed as out for Sunday's game at Tampa Bay. Neither the Packers nor Harris are in a hurry to rule Harris out for the rest of the season.

While saying the Packers are taking a "cautious approach" that is in Harris' "best interests," coach Mike McCarthy on Wednesday said there's a "good chance" Harris would not need surgery for his lacerated spleen. If Harris can avoid surgery, he could return to action this season.

"The good news is that Al may return this year and that this is not a life-and-death situation," wrote Harris' agent, Jack Bechta, on his blog at NationalFootballPost.com on Wednesday.

"I'm hopeful he'll be back," McCarthy said.

Harris sustained the injury during a first-quarter collision with linebacker A.J. Hawk last week against Dallas. The team's medical staff took away his helmet when Harris said he tasted blood in his mouth. In the locker room, blood was found in his urine.

According to Bechta, he and Harris are awaiting third and fourth opinions from experts in the next 48 hours. If the news is good, Harris can begin "nonimpact" workouts such as elliptical or pool work in a week.

If future CT scans show "significant" healing, Bechta wrote, then Harris could be eased back into football activities.

"No definitive return date has been set, but knowing Al like I do, he will heal fast and do everything in his power to get back on the field," Bechta wrote.

McCarthy said if it were up to Harris, he'd play on Sunday against Tampa Bay. Bechta, in fact, wrote that Harris offered to go through extreme measures to face the Buccaneers.

"He is so determined to play," Bechta wrote, "that he has already asked one doctor on Monday to "remove his spleen so he can play against Tampa this weekend. The doc obviously made it clear that was not a good idea and the recovery time would be several weeks." 

Bechta said Harris has missed one game in his football career, dating to high school. He has played in all 163 professional games, including starting all 83 games for Green Bay since being acquired in 2003.

When then-Buccaneers quarterback Chris Simms injured his spleen in the third game of the 2006 season, he needed the organ removed. He missed the final 13 games in 2006 and all 16 in 2007. Coach Jon Gruden recalled the injury during a conference call with reporters at Lambeau Field on Wednesday.

"I wish him the very best," Gruden said of Harris. "As always, he's one of the premier players in the league and a great guy. I just hope, whatever injury he does have, he comes back quickly, because the game needs him."

Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com


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