Lions give Pack's Harris chance to quiet critics Print
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Thursday, 11 September 2008 21:16
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 GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress had his way against Al Harris in the NFC Championship game last season, but the Packers' cornerback never bought into the postgame analysis that was cause for concern in Green Bay this offseason.
Harris' best days are behind him, it was said. He's 33 - a little older and a little bit slower, making him slightly more vulnerable to those big wide receivers.
Then again, Harris did make the Pro Bowl last season. And he wonders if his critics are getting ``spoiled,'' given the fact that he often latches on to the other team's No. 1 receiver in press coverage and usually keeps them quiet.
``It happens - guys are going to catch passes,'' Harris said this week. ``You don't want it to happen in the NFC Championship game. But that stuff doesn't bother me at all. I've been criticized to the fullest my whole career.''
232-pound Burress: 6-3, 220-pound Roy Williams and 6-5, 235-pound Calvin Johnson.
Harris took on Williams on Thanksgiving Day last season, holding him to three catches for 32 yards. And while Johnson, a second-year player out of Georgia Tech, is considered one of the league's top up-and-coming players, Harris could end up taking Williams again Sunday.
``We're the same team. We've got the same scheme, we're not doing anything different,'' Harris said. ``It is what it is.''
Packers defensive coordinator Bob Sanders said he doesn't expect teams to throw more passes Harris' way based on one subpar outing.
``We play an aggressive style, so I think they target our guys by the nature of the way we play,'' Sanders said. ``Our guys realize that, and they work hard at defending them. He's been very, very good for a long, long time. You can go game after game after game where his guy doesn't even catch a ball. You just have to be prepared when they do take a shot. I think he'll rise to any occasion.''
And while Williams and Johnson have similar size to Burress, Harris doesn't see many similarities between Detroit's passing game and New York's. Besides, Harris says size isn't what makes some receivers harder to cover than others.
``It's what they do,'' he said. ``You adjust your game to what they do.''
ge the way they play against bigger receivers.
``There are slightly different things that you're going to do,'' Washington said. ``I'm not going to say what we do. But there are things that you're going to do a little differently that you wouldn't do on a smaller receiver. But for the most part, no.''
And Washington said he doesn't see any evidence that Harris has lost a step.
``There's going to be times when the guy gets a step or two on you, and you have to recover,'' Washington said. ``I don't think he's slowed down any. I really believe he's running better now than he did two or three years ago. People think I'm crazy when I say that, but the way he trains and the way he takes care of his body, I believe it.''
It certainly didn't look that way in the NFC Championship game, but that might have been because of the way the Giants took on the Packers' defense - not who they went after.
In that game, New York had consistent success with back-shoulder fade routes. Giants quarterback Eli Manning intentionally underthrew balls toward Burress' back shoulder, allowing him to come to a quick stop and turn around to catch the ball before Harris could adjust.
``It's an underthrown ball,'' Harris said. ``The receiver knows it's going to be underthrown, the quarterback knows it's going to be underthrown. The defensive back doesn't know it's going to be underthrown.''
ult routes in football to stop. If a cornerback starts to guess that the ball is going to be underthrown, a quarterback can always loft it over his head for a long gain. The best way to disrupt such routes, Harris said, is with a strong pass rush.
``I don't care who's running the routes and who's playing corner if the dude has all day to throw,'' Harris said.
Packers cornerback Tramon Williams expects Harris to shake off the criticism and have another good season.
``I'm pretty sure Al is motivated every week,'' Williams said. ``That's the guy he is. He takes the No. 1 receiver without a question. He battles him all night. You hear the media talk about the guy, but (no) other corner in this league (does) that. So hands-down, he gets way more points in my book.''
 

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