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Return for season opener not out of question for Packers' Harris

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Packers cornerback Al Harris said Wednesday he will be back on the field this year after a knee injury abruptly ended his 2009 season.

In his first comments since sustaining the injury, Harris said he never thought about calling it quits.

"There's no doubt in my mind. If there were, then I wouldn't be here," the 13-year veteran said after the second of four public organized team activities this offseason.

Harris tore a ligament in his left knee while defending San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree on Nov. 22. Harris needed season-ending surgery, and there were questions whether the cornerback would return.

Harris said it was tough to watch the Packers lose to the Arizona Cardinals in an NFC wild-card playoff game in January.

"That was hard, the bits and pieces that I did watch," he said. "It's still hard to watch, even watching practice. But that's a part of it, and that fuels you, to watch the guys go out there and work, to watch your friends play cohesive as a group.

"So that helps in my rehab, I could go in and work on range of motion or work on backpedaling, breaking, stuff like that."

Cornerbacks Pat Lee and Brandon Underwood are receiving more reps to ramp up their development before training camp with Harris and cornerback Charles Woodson out.

"Those guys are going to come back and try to get their work in, so it's going to be hard, reps are going to be less. So you have to get it all in now," said Lee, who missed most of last season because of a knee injury.

Harris said the worst part of his rehabilitation was regaining his range of motion.

"Anybody who's had this type of injury would probably tell you that getting the range back, that's the most painful part," he said. "That's just something you've got to block out."

Harris doesn't know if he will be ready for the season opener or if he will be put on the physically-unable-to-perform list, which would mean he would miss at least the first six weeks of the season.

"If it's up to me and up to me working to get out there, then I'll be out there," Harris said. "But we've got to go with the protocol and do what's right for the team and do what's right by me."

The Packers are expected to be among the league's best teams, and Harris' teammates showed a feisty side Wednesday. Backup offensive tackle Breno Giacomini and linebacker Brad Jones got into a scuffle that stopped practice for several minutes.

"It might have brought a little bit of extra juice to the end of practice, but that's not something that the coaches really look forward to having in practice," Giacomini said. "One thing turns into another, and that happens. You've just got to stop, control it and talk to him. Not tonight, but in a few days."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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