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Al Harris Ready for Owens ?

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by WinnipegPackFan, Nov 29, 2007.

  1. WinnipegPackFan

    WinnipegPackFan Cheesehead

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    Harris ready for latest shot at Dallas' Owens

    Packers’ top cornerback was frustrated by zone coverage plan the last time team faced T.O.

    By Rob Demovsky

    Al Harris said all the right things back then — only now is he speaking his mind, sort of — but make no mistake about it, the Green Bay Packers cornerback was perturbed that he didn’t get his one-on-one matchup with Terrell Owens.

    That was almost three years ago, when Owens played for the Philadelphia Eagles, who on Dec. 4, 2004, torched the Packers 47-17.

    In that game, then-defensive coordinator Bob Slowik opted to play mostly zone coverage, and then-coach Mike Sherman allowed it to happen. Sure enough, Owens had a field day against the Packers with eight catches for 161 yards and a touchdown.

    To this day, Harris remains baffled by Slowik’s game plan against the Eagles and Owens.

    “I have no idea,” Harris said this week when asked why the Packers played zone. “I got in trouble that game. A couple of times we were supposed to be playing zone, and I was playing man. Coach Sherman was hot with me.”

    Harris has nothing to worry about this time around.

    Defensive coordinator Bob Sanders is sure to stick with his season-long plan of matching Harris against the opponent’s best receiver. That means it’s Harris vs. Owens on Thursday night in the NFC’s biggest game of the season, the Packers at the Dallas Cowboys.

    “Al just loves the challenge it brings,” Packers cornerbacks coach Lionel Washington said. “You want to be challenged every week, because you want to shut down the team’s best receiver. He’s done an outstanding job thus far, and hopefully, it can continue.

    “T.O. is going to be a guy who’s going to work hard on his routes, run after the catch. It’s just a big-time challenge, and Al has accepted that challenge. But that’s what it’s going to be — a big-time challenge.”

    Football might be the ultimate team sport, but Harris relishes those individual opportunities.

    “Everybody in this locker room knows if you want to get me up for a game, give me an individual matchup I can concentrate on,” Harris said. “I do get up for the individual matchups.”

    Packers backup cornerback Will Blackmon said he can’t imagine a better scenario for a cornerback than going into a game week knowing the assignment is a certain receiver.

    “At first, you try to see overall what the offensive is trying to do,” Blackmon said. “Then you try to pick him apart. You want to know when he goes to the bathroom, what time he eats, everything about him. It makes things easier, because you know it’s you against him, man up. You’re both getting paid to do this. It’s competitive. That’s what it’s all about.”

    It seemingly gets tougher each week for Harris. Last Thursday against the Lions, he stalked receiver Roy Williams all game. Williams had three catches, but only two were against Harris, and one of those was a hitch route that’s nearly impossible to defend. Harris considered it just another day at the office.

    “I started matching up in 2004, and I’ve faced everybody,” Harris said. “So every week is like that. Every week, you face a guy who’s had 1,000 yards, 100 catches. It’s a tough matchup every week.”

    The 6-foot-3, 218-pound Owens is having one of the finest seasons of his 12-year pro career. He ranks 12th in the NFL in receptions (64) but second in the league in yards (1,093) and touchdown catches (13) behind New England’s Randy Moss.

    “With me personally, when you see a guy that never quits, plays hard and is professional about his job, those are the guys that are true professionals,” Harris said when asked what makes Owens so good. “Sometimes you see a guy who’s good on this play but not good on another play. That’s what I think makes him so good. He’s passionate about his job and gives you 100 percent. What more can you ask for?”

    It was a matchup against Owens — when he was with the San Francisco 49ers — that helped Harris, then with Philadelphia, land in Green Bay. Sherman saw film of Harris covering Owens and decided to trade for him in 2003. So, it was unimaginable to Harris he didn’t get to check Owens in the 2004 game. After that game, Harris had to bite his tongue not to sound like he was being overly critical of the coaches.

    “We have to go with Slo’s judgment,” Harris said in the locker room after that game. “I believe totally in Slo, but me personally — we played Marvin Harrison (of the Indianapolis Colts) like that (in man coverage). It’s not like I’ll stop every route, but I like my odds in bump-and-run (man coverage).”

    This week, Harris said: “The NFL is 95 percent zone coverage. Man is my game, but whatever defense is called, you have to play it.”

    Washington was the Packers assistant defensive backs coach in 2004 but said this week he couldn’t recall playing mostly zone coverages in that game.

    “I really can’t remember why we played so much zone,” Washington said. “I couldn’t tell you. We played more zone then than we do now. I do remember T.O. had a pretty good night. Hopefully, Al’s going to step up and embrace the challenge head on.”
     
  2. Heatherthepackgirl

    Heatherthepackgirl Cheesehead

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    Great Article!! I hope Harris can cover T.O. all night. I think he will do okay, but there will be some plays that Harris wont be able to cover.
     
  3. Heatherthepackgirl

    Heatherthepackgirl Cheesehead

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    1. Cornerback Al Harris has to play effective bump-and-run coverage against receiver Terrell Owens so he can disrupt the timing between Owens and quarterback Tony Romo.

    2. Make sure the safeties stay back and don't let Owens lull them into thinking he is covered.

    "With a guy like T.O. you have to stay on top. You have to take away the deep ball."

    - Packers cornerbacks coach

    Lionel Washington

    3. Don't make it easy on the Cowboys to decipher coverages, because Romo will exploit matchups with tight end Jason Witten and the Packers' linebackers and safeties.

    Tom Silverstein
     
  4. warhawk

    warhawk Cheesehead

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    I was baffled that Slowick was ever named an assistant coach anywhere in the NFL. I was more than baffled he wasn't canned after the Colts game.

    You remember that game right? The one he invented the scheme "how to let the other team score in less than thirty seconds".

    It was actually quite simple. Rush eight guys and you guarantee at least one receiver open every time.
     
  5. Zombieslayer

    Zombieslayer Cheesehead

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    The name Sl*wick still gives me nightmares. Kind of like A**** Ca******
     

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