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Packers CB Harris, S Bigby still waiting to return

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers haven't made a decision on the status of cornerback Al Harris or safety Atari Bigby, and both players will likely have to wait until the end of the week to see if they'll be back on the field for Sunday night's game against Dallas.

Harris and Bigby began the season on the team's physically unable to perform list and returned to practice the week of Oct. 18, opening up a three-week window for the team to decide whether to return them to the active roster. That hasn't happened yet, but cornerback Tramon Williams says both players look ready to go.

"They look great," Williams said Thursday. "They look ready to come back. Obviously, they know the defense. They're just kind of getting their reps back in, getting a good look at the defense, getting a good look at Dallas. Those guys have been looking great."

Bigby had left ankle surgery at the beginning of training camp, and Harris is recovering from a season-ending left knee injury last November. The Packers must make a decision next week on whether either player -- and rookie running back James Starks, who also began the season on PUP -- will return to the team's active roster this year.

And the team has an open roster spot open after releasing defensive end Mike Montgomery earlier this week.

"Just being patient and waiting until they feel that I'm good enough to play," Harris said.

Bigby said he's feeling good, but the decision to get back on the field is out of his hands.

"You know, that's what it is," Bigby said. "Saturday, we'll find out. Up until then, I'll just sit here and prepare as if I'm going to be playing."

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he'll hold the empty roster spot open until Saturday, giving the team flexibility to bring at least one of the two players back without having to make another move. McCarthy wants to watch a full week of practice before making any decisions.

"It's important to get the three days of practice," McCarthy said. "It's important to make sure everybody comes off the field Friday healthy, no different than in the past. Sometimes you have to wait until Saturday to see how a particular player responds to Friday's practice. There won't be any decisions made until Saturday."

The absence of Bigby and Harris has been a boost for the players who replaced them, Williams and veteran backup safety Charlie Peprah.

Williams already was regarded as a strong No. 3 cornerback behind Charles Woodson and Harris. He's playing even better since moving up the depth chart and now might be in line for a new deal.

Williams went undrafted out of Louisiana Tech, and spent training camp with Houston in 2006 before the Packers signed him to their practice squad. He made the roster in 2007 and has blossomed since then.

"I'm just happy that I was able to come in and just exceed expectations," Williams said. "That's the main thing. I knew I could do it, there's no doubt about it."

Williams signed his restricted free agent tender offer from the Packers, and now may be in line for a new long-term deal with the team. Williams has told his agent that he doesn't want regular updates on negotiations because he doesn't want to be distracted, but acknowledged that he wants to stay in Green Bay.

"I mean, come on, it's Green Bay -- one of a kind," Williams said. "Obviously, that's the case. I want to be here. But it's not up to me."

Peprah, meanwhile, didn't get the first shot at taking over for Bigby at the beginning of the season. That went to rookie Morgan Burnett, the team's third-round draft pick out of Georgia Tech. Burnett tore his anterior cruciate ligament against Detroit on Oct. 3 and is out for the season, giving Peprah his chance.

What happens if Bigby returns?

"I don't know what they're going to do," Peprah said. "Technically, it was his spot before he went down, so you can't even be mad. Whatever they ask, that's what I want to do. We'll see what happens."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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