Friday Aug 20

Down to their Last Chance

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Packer Defensive Lineman Justin HarrellOnly about a month ago, I was about to write a bit about who was more likely to don the bust label between Justin Harrell and Pat Lee. We're only less than a week into camp, but it appears that there's a very legitimate chance that neither one will wear that hat out of Green Bay. 

Both Harrell and Lee were early-round picks in recent drafts by Ted Thompson and both were relatively unknown by fans when they were selected. On top of that, both have had trouble staying healthy for the past several seasons and likely face their last real chance with the Packers. With fans about ready to give up on the injury-plagued youngsters, the two have shown progress this offseason and look very capable of making the team. 

Harrell and Lee were dealt favorable hands going into this camp. Both are part of positional groups where the Packers are relatively thin. Harrell looks to add depth to a defensive line that just lost pass-deflecting artist Johnny Jolly while Lee aims to land the dime-back role with Al Harris potentially missing the start of the regular season. It seems that the right variables are in place for these two players to make the roster as long as they show the same potential that Ted Thompson saw a couple years back. 

This is not to say that Harrell and Lee haven't done a little bit of impressing on their own this offseason. Harrell saw time with the first team offense in mini camps while Ryan Pickett was out and was able to hold his own. Meanwhile Lee's name has been a popular one from reporters with his superb play in training camp thus far. So Packers Defensive Back Pat Leeis it actually a shoe-in for both players to make the team? 

Not exactly. Even though Harrell benefitted from Johnny Jolly's suspension, he'll likely still need to beat out one defensive lineman if the Packers decide to keep the standard six down-lineman for a 3-4 defense. His competitors consist of 2009 sixth-round pick Jarius Wynn and 2010 seventh-round pick C.J. Wilson. Though a first-rounder should naturally trump these late-round picks, the Packers will surely keep in mind Harrell's track record in the injury department. 

Lee faces a slightly easier road to make the roster due to the low ceiling for potential of his main competitor, Jarrett Bush. The Packers know what Bush is capable of and may have already decided that any adequate performance from Pat Lee or Josh Bell will send Bush packing. If the Packers decide to keep Bush around for his special teams ability, Lee's job could still be safe since rookie undrafted free agent Sam Shields is viewed as a project and doesn't know the defense as well as Lee does. 

Health is a huge wildcard here. While the Packers would love to tap into the potential that they saw on draft day years back, the team can hardly afford to keep a roster spot available for someone who is susceptible to suffering another season-ending injury mid-way through the season. 

It's still early in training camp but I'll say that both Harrell and Lee make the team this season. As far as which player will be the better contributor down the road, that's though to tell. Lee may see the starting spot of his position open quicker than Harrell. For now, both are focused on just making the team. Don't be surprised to see some contributions to the shaky pass defense from either player this season.

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0 # Tarynfor12 2010-08-11 07:26
I agree Harrell is having a good camp as of now but him getting cut is very un-likely.With him being 100% healthy(we're to believe)he gets his chance this year.The big but to this is simple,he gets hurt at any level in camp it's over.

Pat Lee is another story involving injury.Even if Bush is cut or not the Packers have a possible"Tazmanian Devil" able to get around the field very quickly.Whether he is as adept to the play book or not as to Lee's knowledge of it,he at least is on the field to make a play.Considering the problem in the secondary,I would take his speed to be in the mix of the play then to be toasted waiting for Lee to get in the game.
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+2 # John Rehor 2010-08-11 07:43
What has really helped Harrell is CJ Wilson has shown basically nothing in camp so far. This could change, but from a numbers standpoint it will help Harrell.

with Josh Bell out for the season and Jarrett Bush being Jarrett Bush, Lee will make the team, and be essential to the Nickel/Dime schemes.
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+1 # Mike Davidsen 2010-08-11 10:46
Lee has to be considered virtually a lock to make the team now. Even if Harris starts the season on the roster, Lee will still be looked to in dime packages. Let's just hope he can finally stay healthy.

Apparently, it's been said that Harrell hasn't been giving it his all in camp. I hope that's not the case because that's really the only thing, other than injury, that would prevent him from making the team, in my opinion.
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+1 # Jr Augustine 2010-08-11 18:58
It did bother me that Harrell went out of camp with heat cramps. Was one of those "it's always something" moments for me.
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+1 # John Rehor 2010-08-11 07:34
Editors note: Josh Bell was placed on IR 8/10/10
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0 # Jr Augustine 2010-08-11 18:59
Good catch.
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+1 # PackerHQ 2010-08-11 20:19
Harrell was a long shot from day 1 with a huge upside that has never materialized.( you win some and lose some).
I watched Lee at Auburn and he has the skill and talent but also needs to stay healthy.
Really think keeping Shields around would help GB in their dime zone package as he has the speed to recover in cover 3 .
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+2 # Mike Davidsen 2010-08-11 20:50
I have high hopes for Lee in particular. From what I've heard, he's showing the ability that TT saw in him coming out of college. I'd love to see him contribute well in the dime this year, develop, and become a starter down the road. Those are high hopes - but we'll need someone to be Woodson and Harris' heir
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-3 # Tarynfor12 2010-08-11 22:08
Not to be nasty,but the word "hope"gives me the galloping trots.Do I sit and await the DIVINE SAVIOR or am I sitting in total acceptance of failure.
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+3 # Brady Augustine 2010-08-12 14:21
While the etymology of "hope" traced back to the Old English is one of a "wish" the source of the word is unknown and in it's semantic domain, "hope" can range in meaning from a wish (which apparently makes you sick) to an expected positive outcome to even a solid certainty. I believe in context Mike's point was that Lee has the athletic ability to be a player but the outcome is yet uncertain. This would fall in the middle of the range of meaning. One context clue to this is that Mike used the term "high hopes", not just "hope".

I HOPE this helps (in the sense of waiting on the Divine Savior).
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+4 # Mike Davidsen 2010-08-12 14:38
Yeah, that's what I was trying to say - thanks Brady. The other context of "hope", which Taryn eluded to, can typically be found in Bears forums ;)
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0 # Jr Augustine 2010-08-12 14:45
Ha, ha. Nice...
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0 # Brady Augustine 2010-08-13 04:37
LMAO! Awesome!
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0 # John Rehor 2010-08-12 14:44
Was going to respond but think Brady said it all.

Well done sir-and a thumbs up to you.
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0 # Tarynfor12 2010-08-13 04:40
I'll give myself a pat on the back for bringing it into the discussion.YEAH for ME!!! LOL
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