Notebook: Harrell Makes Big Play In Return Home

NASHVILLE - Defensive tackles don’t get in the end zone often, so if Justin Harrell was going to score a touchdown, he might as well do it in Tennessee. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Titans Gameday


Justin Harrell

NASHVILLE - Defensive tackles don't get in the end zone often, so if Justin Harrell was going to score a touchdown, he might as well do it in Tennessee.

Playing in his home state and near his alma mater, the University of Tennessee, Harrell made the biggest play of his brief NFL career as the third quarter opened on Thursday night.

On Tennessee's first snap of the second half, fellow rookie Larry Birdine beat his man around the corner for a sack of Titans quarterback Vince Young. Birdine forced a fumble that Harrell snagged in midair, and he rumbled 18 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14.

"It was just a great all-around play by the defense," Harrell said. "Larry Birdine had great pressure, hit the quarterback, and the coverage was there. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. The ball just popped up and I was able to catch it and run with it."

A native of Martin, Tenn., Harrell scored what turned out to be the Packers' last points of the evening in the 30-14 defeat. But the touchdown highlighted a solid night for the first-round draft pick, who finished with four tackles, including three solo.

"Anytime you come home and do something like that, it's always special," Harrell said. "I had a lot of friends and family here at the game, so it made it more special to do it here in Tennessee."

Wynn's first action

Rookie running back DeShawn Wynn finally got to play in a preseason game, and the seventh-round draft pick hopes he did enough to make the team.

Wynn had 54 yards on 21 carries, going against both the starting and backup defenses for the Titans. It was the most carries for a single back in any of the four preseason games, but Wynn showed he had the stamina, rushing six straight times for 25 yards in the fourth quarter.

"Coach (Edgar) Bennett got me ready in practice as far as getting a lot of reps and getting my breath under me," said Wynn, who missed the first three preseason games with a quad strain. "I was ready for the haul, and it was a long haul and a long night."

Wynn didn't have a lot of room to run much of the night, but he did break loose for an 11-yard gain out of the shotgun late in the second quarter. He also dropped a short swing pass from Brett Favre and couldn't haul in Aaron Rodgers' low throw on a screen pass.

All that leaves Wynn himself guessing whether he'll be on the final roster or not.

"I'm not sure," he said. "I think I did my job, what I was supposed to do when I was in there. That's pretty much all I could have done. I just wanted to handle my assignments and show the coaches what I've got."

Holding his own

Atari Bigby appeared to hold onto his starting spot at strong safety with his play Thursday night. He got two notable plays in early, leveling Brandon Jones on an incomplete slant pass on Tennessee's first snap of the game and then running down Jones on a crossing route and tackling him for a 3-yard gain on third-and-11, forcing a punt.

The plays weren't as spectacular as the sacks and forced fumble he had in the second preseason game against Seattle, which led to him taking over the starting role, but it's the run-of-the-mill plays that can be just as revealing in evaluating a player.

"Those plays are very important because it shows that I am consistent in my play and it shows that I'm accountable and where I'm supposed to be," Bigby said.

{sportsad300}Making an impact

Tight end Bubba Franks concluded his productive preseason with another strong outing, showing he clearly will be looked to as an impact player in the offense this season.

Franks made back-to-back catches of 9 and 20 yards on the Packers' lone scoring drive on offense, boosting his preseason totals to seven catches for 84 yards, all in the last three games.

Driver has no worries

Receiver Donald Driver, who did not play, said before the game he has every intention of being ready to play in the season opener against Philadelphia on Sept. 9.

Driver has been getting treatment on his sprained foot three times a day and is still walking with a boot, but he expects to shed the boot soon.

"They don't have to worry about anything," Driver said of the fans. "I've always told them, don't worry about me because I'll be out there. They don't have to worry."

Injury update

Running back Noah Herron (knee) and safety Tyrone Culver (shoulder) left the game with injuries. Both were injured on special teams plays; Herron on kickoff coverage, right after scoring his touchdown, and Culver on punt coverage. Neither injury was suspected to be serious.

A total of 11 Packers players did not dress for the game due to injury. They were receivers Shaun Bodiford (knee) and Driver (foot), running backs Brandon Jackson (concussion) and Vernand Morency (knee), offensive linemen Tony Palmer (hamstring), Jason Spitz (calf) and Tony Moll (neck/stinger), linebackers Abdul Hodge (knee) and Spencer Havner (back), defensive ends Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (knee) and Michael Montgomery (knee) and safety Aaron Rouse (hamstring).

In addition, defensive backs Charles Woodson, Al Harris and Marquand Manuel did not suit up (coaches' decision).

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