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Harris and Woodson endure pain to keep receivers from making

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by Heatherthepackgirl, Oct 2, 2007.

  1. Heatherthepackgirl

    Heatherthepackgirl Cheesehead

    Nov 22, 2005
    Posted: Oct. 1, 2007

    The day after the Green Bay Packers beat the Minnesota Vikings, it was a toss-up as to who was hurting more, veteran cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson or the receivers they punished on Sunday.

    Charles Woodson sends Vikings running back Chester Taylor flying into the air in the fourth quarter Sunday in Minneapolis. Woodson's aggressive style is crucial to the success of the Packers' overall defensive game plan, which relies on effective cornerbacks.
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    The two veteran bump-and-run specialists limped into the facility Monday morning after another day of mugging the opposition - some of it legal, some of it not so legal - but their pain was certainly soothed by the knowledge they had knocked around the opposition and their team was sitting at 4-0.

    The Vikings cried foul after Woodson, draped all over receiver Bobby Wade, deflected a pass that bounced into the arms of safety Atari Bigby, preserving the Packers' 23-16 lead with a little more than a minute to go at the Metrodome. But the Packers were making no apologies for the physical play from their cornerbacks, which has become a trademark of their defense.

    "That's who we are; that's the way we play," coach Mike McCarthy said. "That's our scheme, and I know people have identified that and are trying to create or emphasize that we are bumping downfield too often and so forth. But we aren't going to change."

    The cornerstone of defensive coordinator Bob Sanders' system is the bump-and-run coverage of the cornerbacks. The Packers count on their aggressive defensive line to harass the quarterback and don't blitz much, so it's vital for the two cornerbacks to disrupt routes and make the quarterback hold on to the ball longer than he would like.

    The better the jam at the line, the more likely it is that the pressure will get him.

    "When you have guys like that who can hold up on the outside, it allows you to do a lot of things," Sanders said. "And that's a sign of their mental toughness because a lot of times they are on an island. But they respond. Other times it may look like they're an island and we have coverage over them.

    "But certainly those guys are very, very mentally tough. They allow you to do things that if you didn't have Al or 'Wood,' you wouldn't be able to do."

    Harris and Woodson are a big reason why the Packers rank tied for fifth in points allowed this season - among teams that have played four games going into Monday night - despite ranking 19th in total yards allowed. The two cornerbacks have combined to allow just one touchdown and just four receptions of 20 or more yards, none longer than 40 yards.

    There has been some concern that the Packers might not have Harris and Woodson every game because of injuries both have suffered. Harris has been dealing with back spasms since the first week of the season and can barely walk after a game, and Woodson has suffered hip and foot injuries that have affected him.

    But both are on a modified practice schedule in which they participate only in jog-throughs on Wednesdays, and sometimes Thursdays, and have been able to practice hard at the end of the week. Neither has missed a game this season and neither has suffered a big drop-off in his play.

    Harris has been beat up a lot. He suffered a bruised elbow that temporarily knocked him out of the opener against Philadelphia, is dealing with daily back pain and is nursing a swollen right hand, suffered when Vikings rookie Adrian Peterson stepped on him Sunday.

    "He's played through two weeks now when he's obviously injured," McCarthy said. "We need to try to get him healthy. Friday will be a big day in his medical evaluation on if he goes this week."

    Harris visited a back specialist recently and was told that he does not have a disc problem, which was a big relief to him. He said the specialist told him his experience with such injuries is that they will go away in two to three weeks.

    If Harris can make it through two more weeks, he'll have almost two weeks to rest his back because of the team's bye. If he can play Sunday against Chicago, he will do so because of the magnitude of the game, but McCarthy could choose to hold him out the next week against Washington so he could have a full three weeks to heal.

    "It's better," Harris said Monday. "I feel better today. They did an MRI and they did X-rays and they said it looks good. I really do think that the bye will help a lot. I don't know how I'm going to look after the games, but I think I can make it through these next two."

    Harris said he wasn't surprised that the Vikings went deep on him three times. What did surprise him was that they didn't do it more. Perhaps the fact he defended all three with excellent step-for-step coverage had something to do with it.

    Despite his sore elbow, back and hand, Harris has given up just two plays of 20 yards or more, one a 37-yard touchdown against San Diego. He did not give up a single big play against the Vikings.

    Both Harris and Woodson were guilty of coverage penalties related to their aggressiveness with receivers. Woodson, who gave up a 40-yard reception to Wade in the first half, had a 58-yard interception return for a touchdown but it was called back because of an illegal contact penalty. Woodson also had a pass interference call that was declined, and Harris had illegal contact and pass interference penalties, both of which gave the Vikings a first down.

    The Packers seem willing to live with those penalties.

    "We're aggressive at the line of scrimmage," said cornerbacks coach Lionel Washington, who disputed Woodson's penalty on the interception and defended him on the Bigby interception play. "Within those 5 yards we are real aggressive. We're not breaking rules but we're so aggressive sometimes it looks like things are worse than what they actually are.

    "We have two big, strong physical corners. Those guys want to be physical. They've got the ability to do that and shut receivers down. I think we just have to continue to play the way we have played. We can't let the flags deter us from what we do best, and that's being physical."
  2. dhpackr

    dhpackr Cheesehead

    Sep 13, 2005
    Re: Harris and Woodson endure pain to keep receivers from ma

    we are 4-0
  3. tromadz

    tromadz Cheesehead

    Aug 15, 2005
    Re: Harris and Woodson endure pain to keep receivers from ma

  4. Packnic

    Packnic Cheesehead

    Mar 28, 2006
    these guys make me proud to be a Packer fan.

    warriors. Cornerback is tough enough to play healthy.. and these two stay injured but stay in the game...

    you gotta love their effort and passion.

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