Harris had no doubts

Veteran cornerback Al Harris, who spoke on Tuesday for the first time since sustaining a lacerated spleen exactly one month ago, is not surprised he's poised to play after bye.

Exactly one month ago, it was feared Al Harris' season was over after sustaining an injured spleen during the Week 3 showdown against the Dallas Cowboys.

Harris, the Green Bay Packers' 11-year veteran cornerback, insists he never shared those fears.

"No," Harris said emphatically. "Not at all. Not at all."

On Tuesday, with players exiting Lambeau Field for a five-day bye-week break, Harris held court for the first time since a lacerated spleen left blood in his urine and put his career in jeopardy. Harris, who according to coach Mike McCarthy offered to have his spleen removed if it would get him back on the field sooner, hopes he'll be cleared to resume practice next week so he can line up against Tennessee on Nov. 2.

Harris was injured on Sept. 21 when he collided with linebacker A.J. Hawk midway through the first quarter. Harris crumpled to the turf, returned briefly, then headed to the locker room with what the team figured was cramping. Only when blood was found in his urine did the Packers suspect the injury was far more serious.

"That was the last thing on my mind that I had some internal injury from getting hit on my side," Harris said, thinking it was perhaps a broken rib, at the worst. "I didn't really know what it was, but I didn't think I was going to come into the locker room and then be out for six weeks, either."

Harris hadn't missed a game in his career until missing the last four. While he remained in Green Bay for treatment, he stayed away from the team and "just concentrated on my family and my kids just to keep my mind off it."

He said the first week, when he wasn't allowed to do any physical activity, "sucked." After that, he was allowed to begin low-impact exercises, and last week at practice, Harris resumed individual drills and pulled a weighted sled while wearing a heavy vest. A recent scan showed the fifth-eighths inch laceration on the spleen had practically vanished.

"Not your usual routine, so a lot of prayers and a lot of working out," Harris said of how he passed the time.

To the surprise of some observers, the Packers' pass defense has survived nicely without Harris. In his place, Tramon Williams has blossomed, and Will Blackmon did a superb job while matched against Marvin Harrison for most of Sunday's victory over the Colts in which the Packers played almost the entire game with three cornerbacks.

Harris praised the play of Williams and Blackmon, as well as rookie Patrick Lee and Jarrett Bush. "Especially Tramon. I think he came up really big for us," Harris said.

"He was ready, man," Harris said of Williams. "He's ready. He's a good player. He's going to be a good player for a long time."

Even with the Packers' secondary riding high after frustrating Peyton Manning on Sunday, Harris' return will be welcomed by his veteran sidekick, Charles Woodson.

"You want to be as close to full strength as a defense as you can be," Woodson said. "We'll be happy when he's back out there suited up for us. The one good thing about it is the young guys have gotten a lot of repetitions. When Al's back and we got to our nickel packages, we know our guys have had a lot of time in game situations and gained a lot of experience."

Harris says he's ready to help his team again. He's prepared to be reinserted into the starting lineup but didn't push for it, and he scoffed at the notion he might be tentative at first, blurting out, "What?!" when asked about it. He figures he'll wear some protective device or padding, but said the rib cage should provide enough protection.

"You see a lot of spleen injuries in car accidents, so I think it was more of the impact and I was turned a weird way," Harris said. "This was really like a freak thing. Maybe it was just time to sit down for a little bit."

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

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