State of the Packers: CBs

Because they didn't draft a cornerback, the Packers will be in wish-hope-pray mode at a position that was ravaged by injuries to Al Harris, Will Blackmon and Pat Lee last season. However, can the Packers actually count on any of those three being healthy?

Our State of the Packers series continues with the cornerbacks.


Starters: Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams. Veteran backups: Josh Bell, Will Blackmon, Jarrett Bush, D.J. Clark, Trevor Ford, Al Harris, Pat Lee, Brandon Underwood. Rookies: Sam Shields.

The big picture

If we're talking about Ted Thompson's decision to not draft a cornerback or two at any point this season, then we'll know the general manager made a colossal misjudgment.

As it is, the Packers will enter this season wishing, hoping and praying that a secondary that was carved apart by Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner will not suffer a painful repeat performance.

Painful, of course, being the key word, with their Nos. 2, 4 and 5 cornerbacks all winding up on season-ending injured reserve last season. Lee went down in the preseason with a knee injury. Blackmon went down at Minnesota with a knee injury that required surgery. Harris went down against San Francisco with a knee injury that required extensive surgery. Without them, the Packers were easy pickings against the Vikings, Steelers and the season-ending playoff game at Arizona.

In theory, the odds are against the Packers being hit so hard again at a position in which decent replacements just aren't readily available on the street.

Then again, the history says the odds might not be in the Packers' favor.

The 35-year-old Harris tore two of the three major knee ligaments. Because he's always relied on guile and technique rather than sheer athleticism, maybe he'll be able to come back and be a reliable performer. The alternative is any slight decrease in quickness and speed will doom his career.

In two seasons, Lee — a former second-round pick — has played in only five regular-season games, with both seasons ending with knee injuries (not to mention a back problem that hindered him as a rookie). His career totals on defense? One pass broken up and one tackle.

Blackmon, who is probably the best athlete in the secondary, has played in only 32 of a possible 64 games during his four seasons. He has no career interceptions, though he did play masterfully in shutting down Marvin Harrison in the 2008 game against the Colts.

The hope is that two of those three players return and contribute, and that one of the others — most likely Underwood, a sixth-round pick last year — elevates his game and becomes a solid rotation player, as well.

Hoping, however, is a foolhardy approach to winning a Super Bowl.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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