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Williams vs. Harris Is Marquee Match-Up


It will be the game within the game Sunday at Lambeau Field.

The Detroit Lions' biggest offensive threat is receiver Roy Williams, who couldn't heap enough praise on Green Bay Packers' cornerback Al Harris in a conference call with local media on Wednesday.

"Everybody asks me who I think the best corner is in the NFL, and Al Harris is the best corner in the NFL," Williams said.

Harris took the compliment in stride. He didn't dismiss it as strictly gamesmanship, but in his mind there's really no response for it other than to show your foe he's right ... on the field.

"Words don't go out and perform on Sunday," Harris said. "So a guy can say, 'Hey, I think this guy is the best thing since sliced bread,' but if on Sunday he gives up 400 yards, 500 yards, with seven, eight touchdowns ..."

Williams and Harris are likely to be sick of each other by game's end on Sunday, but they're both aware their match-up will factor heavily into the outcome.

The first time the Packers and Lions met this season, a 31-24 Green Bay win back on Sept. 24 at Ford Field, Williams and Harris weren't one-on-one the entire game. Harris matched up against him only in certain situations, and Williams had his way with the Green Bay secondary, catching seven passes for 138 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown.

That marks the highest single-game output by an opposing receiver against the Packers this season. It also was the first of five 100-yard performances in 2006 by Williams, who has flourished in offensive coordinator Mike Martz's aggressive system.

Williams ranks third in the NFL in receiving yardage with 1,116 yards, already 300 yards more than his career high as a rookie two seasons ago. Four of his 69 catches this year have gone for touchdowns.

"You know what I think he's really good at is judging the ball while it's in the air," Harris said. "The elite guys are those guys who have very good judgment when the ball is in the air. When you find guys that can judge the ball, that's what separates them.

"I think he's doing well. He's running his routes much better than when he first came in. He's doing a good job."

Since that first meeting, Harris more and more has been assigned specifically to cover the opponent's top wideout, and he's been primarily responsible for holding in check St. Louis' Torry Holt (three catches, 40 yards), Miami's Chris Chambers (2-29), Arizona's Anquan Boldin (4-47) and Seattle's Deion Branch (4-38).

"I vote for him for the Pro Bowl, every year, year in and year out," Williams said. "He's not the corner who's going to get you interceptions, but he will shut down that No. 1 wide receiver.

"That's just the type of player he is. He's my measuring stick of how good I can be against him. I think he's a Pro Bowler. I think he's overlooked and underestimated."

{sportsad300}Harris, a nine-year veteran who has never been to the Pro Bowl, appreciates the sentiment but knows that with just two interceptions this season, he's not likely to have enough in that glamorous statistical category to get a Pro Bowl bid.

He also believes his own teammate, Charles Woodson (who has five interceptions) is having a Pro Bowl year himself. But none of that has any effect on how Harris does his job each week.

"You never know man. Last year I only gave up two touchdowns, didn't make it," Harris said. "This year, gave up one touchdown. You never know.

"It is what it is. You can't get too wrapped up in it. But it is a goal, one day."

Williams' goal on Sunday is to do whatever he can to shake Harris' physical bump-and-run style at the line of scrimmage. Williams joked that Harris' arms are "36 feet long" and his 6-foot-1, 185-pound build doesn't begin to describe how strong he is.

"Whenever he puts those arms on you, you're not going anywhere," Williams said. "It's really like a boxing match. You really have to fight."

Williams vs. Harris ... it does have the ring of a prize fight. And it's sure to go the distance.

"Anytime you have Round 2, it all starts fresh," Lions head coach Rod Marinelli said. "Each guy has to go out and compete, and that will make the game special."

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