The column suggesting the Packers "pull the plug" and "shut it down" on Justin Harrell for being injury prone by Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette deserves every bit of criticism it gets.
Granted, Harrell missed his first day of practice on Tuesday since preparation for the 2010 season began, a huge red flag considering one missed day of practice signified the end of his season in 2009.
But after practice, Harrell told CheeseheadTV.com that he woke up with back tightness and would be back on Thursday.
Especially egregious, the author fails to even acknowledge in his column that Harrell missed Thursday's practice due to the reported birth of his child. Furthermore, head coach Mike McCarthy said Harrell would have practiced on Thursday if available.
The former first-round draft choice does not get a free pass onto the 53-man roster because he had a child, but he does get a free pass until further notice (this evening at a minimum).
Until proven otherwise, we can only take these men at their words. And they deserve the benefit of the doubt.
Prior to Tuesday, Harrell pulled out of one half of one practice early due to heat-related issues. Not to make excuses for the defensive lineman, but if there's one person who may not be in good enough shape to handle the rigors of an NFL training camp, it figures it would be Harrell after sitting out the past season plus.
And after sitting out of Tuesday's action, Harrell has missed exactly one day due solely to a back that has twice had surgery. One day.
That brings us back to the topic of the birth of a baby. And not just any birth, one that also reportedly necessitated an emergency C-section. Does not a situation like this warrant an exercise in restraint? Vandermause has not typically been one to push the envelope in his columns, but this one exceeds proper decorum.
On top of all that, Harrell is coming off what at least one observer considers to be the single best performance by any player on the entire roster in the first preseason game a week ago against the Cleveland Browns.
At least the columnist acknowledges a similar assessment from defensive line coach Mike Trgovac, which he should heed.
“Justin I thought showed some signs of life,” said Trogovac. “I thought he did some good things in the game. It’s just a matter of keeping him out here. Justin’s a good football player. He’s a strong kid that can move. When he’s in there, he does a good job for us.”
Harrell isn't off limits to criticism, but if his back is truly a problem, the writer could have waited until after tonight's game at the very least (and probably longer).
According to Greg Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "I'm told DE Justin Harrell made the trip for the Packers."
Given that information, Harrell's word and McCarthy's word, there's every possibility the defensive lineman will suit up and play this evening in spite of any pain, criticism and doubters he may have.
Vandermause writes, "It’s possible Harrell’s back could loosen up in time for him to play in the preseason game against Seattle Saturday night, but even in the unlikely event that happens, how long can he last?"
Unlikely is turning into likely before our very eyes.
There were and will be several chances to pen a similar column. One of them was a year ago when the Packers placed Harrrell on injured reserve. Another was this offseason and yet another will be the coming weeks when the Packers have to choose between cutting Harrell or another player.
Because of a failure to give Harrell the benefit of the doubt, this column in the Green Bay Press-Gazette doesn't get off the hook like Harrell should, at least until next week.
- Like Like
- 2 points