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Notebook: Harrell Back In Action

Defensive tackle Justin Harrell, who spent the first six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list following two offseason back surgeries, was back on the practice field Wednesday for the first time this season. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Oct. 15


Defensive tackle Justin Harrell, who spent the first six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list following two offseason back surgeries, was back on the practice field Wednesday for the first time this season.

"I think I am more excited than anybody just knowing that I am out there and finally healthy," Harrell said. "I'm just focused on trying to get back out there on the field on Sundays and help this team out."

Harrell said he did not experience any pain during Wednesday's practice, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy said the team will utilize the entire week before making a decision on Harrell's availability for Sunday's game vs. Indianapolis.

"I'm not going to put him in the position where he can't be successful," McCarthy said. "I don't think that's very smart. I know our injury situation would create more urgency for that, but we've got to make sure he is ready to play, just like any other player that comes off of a medical situation."

The Packers currently have just three defensive tackles on the roster in starters Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly and backup Colin Cole, and Pickett is nursing a tricep injury suffered last Sunday at Seattle.

"It's just more about getting the speed and your reaction time," Harrell said. "When you are away from that game for that long period of time you tend to lose some things. Right now I am just working on getting my speed and my reaction time down and just going out there and trying to make plays."

The Packers have three weeks to either place Harrell on the active roster or keep him on reserve/physically unable to perform, where he would be for the remainder of the season.

Rodgers improving

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be limited for the third straight week of practice as he continues to rehab his injured right shoulder, but he said the injury is feeling a lot better and the pain has decreased.

McCarthy said that Rodgers may throw during Thursday's practice, but would not do any throwing Friday.

"They just felt, the medical staff, the closer to the game that he throws that he would encounter more of a negative effect on his shoulder," McCarthy said. "We're going to rehab after practice hard today and we'll see where his soreness and pain level is tomorrow."

Rodgers said he will focus again this week on taking mental reps when backups Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm are under center during team work.

"You've just got to take it as almost if you are the backup," Rodgers said. "You've got to be in on every conversation so if there is a change in something I'm aware of it so I don't get out there on Sunday and am a step behind.

"I like to stand behind the quarterback. You know what the play is and you kind of read the defense and think to yourself where you would go with the ball."

Rodgers is also spending extra time with quarterbacks coach Tom Clements working on his footwork, an aspect of fundamentals that McCarthy said they need to keep on top of with Rodgers' limited practice time.

"I think that is maybe the first thing that goes when you don't practice for two weeks is the footwork," Rodgers said. "It's not every time, but when you don't practice for a couple of weeks, you are going to be a little sloppy in your footwork and I have been. I'm trying to clean that up."

{sportsad300}Harris getting closer

Cornerback Al Harris, who has been sidelined since injuring his spleen in Week 3 vs. Dallas, participated in practice on a limited basis for the first time since the injury.

Harris was able to participate in a lot of the individual drills and extensive conditioning work on the side, but McCarthy said Harris is doubtful for Sunday.

"He feels great," McCarthy said. "Mentally he feels he could play. We're just going to follow the direction of the doctors.

"He's made significant improvement from the time of the injury to the scan this past Monday, and he definitely feels a lot better. We definitely have a chance to have him back."

McCarthy said on Monday that he believed Harris might be able to return for the Packers' Nov. 2 game at Tennessee. Green Bay has a bye next Sunday.

Injury/participation update

In addition to Pickett, safety Atari Bigby (hamstring), defensive end Jason Hunter (hamstring), cornerback Pat Lee (back), defensive end Michael Montgomery (ankle) and cornerback Charles Woodson (toe) did not participate.

McCarthy said Bigby was tested Wednesday and is getting "close", but added that how Bigby feels Thursday and his ability to practice will determine if he plays Sunday.

Pickett said he was not in as much pain as he was on Sunday and is hoping to test the injury on Friday in practice.

Limited participants in addition to Rodgers and Harris were tackle Chad Clifton (hamstring) and wide receiver James Jones (knee).

Linebacker A.J. Hawk (groin) and safety Aaron Rouse (concussion) participated fully.

For the Colts, running back Joseph Addai (hamstring), defensive end Dwight Freeney (not injury related), wide receiver Roy Hall (knee), cornerback Kelvin Hayden (knee), linebacker Freddy Keiaho (groin), defensive end Robert Mathis (not injury related), tight end Gijon Robinson (ankle) and safety Bob Sanders (knee) did not participate in Wednesday's practice.

Colts head coach Tony Dungy said Addai will likely be out this week with the injury, and if he does not play Dominic Rhodes would get the starting nod.

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