Notebook: Harris Will Be Ready

The veteran cornerback thinks he'll play in Week 1 ... plus, Charles Woodson discusses last month's fire; injury updates; Aaron Rodgers on fantasy football; and more from Sunday morning. We'll have much more after Sunday night's practice.

Al Harris is equal parts tough, defiant and proud.

The veteran cornerback, who had "all kinds of stuff torn up" in his knee during the November game against San Francisco, remains resolute that not only will he play this season but he'll be ready for Week 1 at Philadelphia.

"Nothing has changed for me," Harris said about playing on Sept. 12. "I don't think so, at all."

Harris hasn't been cleared to practice, and the 13th-year pro figures he'd need only a couple days of practice to get ready for live action.

"It's totally up to (Dr.) Pat (McKenzie) and (general manager) Ted (Thompson)," Harris said. "If it were up to me, I'd be shooting to be back as soon as possible. But you see a lot of guys try to rush back and put a timeline on it and they end up hurting themselves more. I just really have to go by the way the knee feels. Right now, it's going well and it's responding well. As soon as I satisfy the training staff, I'll be out there."

Harris' veteran sidekick, Charles Woodson, wouldn't be surprised to be lining up alongside Harris in five weeks.

"I wouldn't bet against him, I'll tell you that," Woodson said. "You guys have been around Al longer than I have, and you know the way he works and how bad he wants to be on that field. So I definitely wouldn't bet against him."

Woodson feels blessed

The tattoo on the left side of Woodson's neck says, "Blessed." And that's exactly how he felt after escaping a house fire in Bay Harbor, Mich., in the early-morning hours of Saturday, July 11.

Woodson was there for a party to celebrate a $15 million donation to the new University of Michigan women's hospital, to which Woodson donated $2 million to on Thanksgiving. Woodson wound up waking up his good friend Rick Ruiz, with the California winemaker later saying that Woodson saved his life.

"Yeah, I've never been in anything like that," Woodson said. "I've never been in a place where it was filled with smoke and you're trying to cover your nose and cough, trying to gather what you can gather, wake people up and that sort of thing. I had never been in anything like that. Just to see it all come like that was just a crazy deal."

Roll call

Harris, safety Atari Bigby (ankle) and James Starks (hamstring) still haven't passed their physicals. Outside linebacker Brad Jones, who departed Saturday's practice after taking a helmet to the back, didn't practice and is day-to-day. Linebacker Nick Barnett (knee) and safety Derrick Martin (ankle) are on one-a-day schedules, so they'll participate in the night practice.

Veteran tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher got the morning off, as well. First-rounder Bryan Bulaga took Clifton's place while Breno Giacomini replaced Tauscher.

Have a drink

Cornerback Jarrett Bush was one of the players who hobbled off the field with a cramp, and his defensive teammates gave him some grief about it. McCarthy, however, didn't find the cramping quite as humorous.

"It started yesterday," he said. "I don't think we had some individuals on our football team that did a very good job hydrating. It's not like it's hot out here today or yesterday. But also, those things do happen at the beginning of training camp. There's a lot of anxiety, a lot of extra stress that goes into the beginning of training camp. Getting used to carrying your pads, the length of practice, the amount of individual fundamental work you have. It's just all part of getting their bodies conditioned for the stress that we're putting them under. But we could do a little better job hydrating."

Fantasy man

One reason why the NFL is the king of all professional sports is the rise in popularity of fantasy football. Aaron Rodgers is a fantasy stud, thanks to his 4,434 passing yards, 35 total touchdowns and just seven interceptions.

"That is the No. 1 comment I get from people — about fantasy," Rodgers said. "More than any other comment. It's some sort of fantasy remark. Like, ‘Hey, thanks for the money you won me,' ‘Thanks for the points,' or ‘I should've drafted you' or ‘I shouldn't have drafted you as high as I drafted you,' or ‘I needed more points against the Bears last year' … any number of comments like that, and it always makes me chuckle."

Four-point stance

— There is another practice on Sunday, at 6:30 p.m., which is expected to be the most physical of this young training camp. Practice on Monday is at 2 p.m.

— A pooch-punting period didn't go so well. While only Tim Masthay put a ball into the end zone, there were only three punts placed inside the 10-yard line — all at the 9, including two by Chris Bryan.

— In another special teams period, the field-goal defense worked on stopping fakes run out of funky formations. Bryan, the Australian, was being coached on the side on how to throw the football correctly. Someone should have taught fifth-round tackle Marshall Newhouse how to catch, since he dropped Bryan's pass in the end zone.

"Well I've never thrown a ball, really, besides in practice, what I've done," Bryan said. "Because back home, we don't throw the ball in our game at all. It's another skill that I've had to pick up for that off chance that I need to. Hopefully I don't, but it's good fun. You guys go to the park and play catch when you're younger. Well, I never did that, so to play catch is not too bad."

— Most of the 11-on-11 work revolved around blitzing. Not surprisingly, the defense dominated the period. Time and again, linebackers and, especially, defensive backs got into the backfield on blitzes.

Sunday's stars

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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