One day after the Packers took half a game lead in the NFC North with their most dominating performance of the season against the downtrodden Cowboys before a national TV audience, the primary focus in Green Bay was on another topic — the release of veteran CB Al Harris.
A few hours before the release of Harris was made official, the 35-year-old veteran told the Milwaukee Journal that his imminent departure was a shock that he did not see coming.
"They really caught me off guard with this one," Harris said of a move that Packers head coach Mike McCarthy later said was purely a "big-picture roster decision." Both Harris and McCarthy indicated that it was a good bet the NFL had not seen the last of the physical corner whose bump-and-run coverage has served the Packers so well the previous seven seasons. It would not be a shock if Harris is suddenly facing his old team in its first game after its bye week against Minnesota, as rumors are flying that the Vikings could be interested in Harris' services.
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McCarthy grimaced in his late-Monday-morning press conference when asked if the Packers had been totally up-front with Harris about his status.
"I don't want to be redundant," McCarthy said. "It was a tough decision. Al was told point blank about all the options. I am not going to get into a 'he said, she said' situation, and I have no qualms about the professionalism that we showed throughout this process."
By all accounts, Harris finally does appear ready to continue playing again after his extensive rehab following the severe knee injury that ended his 2009 season in Week 11. Should he indeed end up in Vikings purple, reunited with former Packers legend Brett Favre just in time for the second game of this year's Packers-Vikings series, it will add that much more hype to a rematch of a prime-time thriller that was a lot more compelling than Green Bay's 45-7 rout of a Cowboys team that was perfectly awful in every way imaginable.
As for the "big picture" McCarthy referred to, it would appear the continued emergence of CBs Tramon Williams and rookie Sam Shields is primarily responsible for Harris' release. Williams has been playing at a Pro Bowl level all season, and Shields has gotten better each week since returning from a calf injury that forced him to miss a couple of games. The fleet-footed undrafted rookie came up with a marvelous play in the Cowboys game on his interception of a pass intended for Cowboys WR Miles Austin that set up the Packers' first score.