Justin Harrell knows stakes heading into ‘make-or-break camp’ : Packers Insider

Justin Harrell knows stakes heading into ‘make-or-break camp’

August 5, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Aug 5, 2010 ~ by Kareem Copeland

~Justin Harrell has heard the comments and is more than aware of his public perception.

The Green Bay Packers defensive end knows he’s been called a bust by some, and General Manager Ted Thompson’s biggest mistake by others.

Harrell has even had to calm a few family members down over the issue.

“I got a couple phone calls (of them wanting) to come up here and handle some business,” Harrell said with a laugh. “I told them don’t worry about it. If I can handle it, they can handle it.”

“Four years, you don’t stay around this league too long when you’re not really producing or doing anything on the field,” Harrell said. “I would say it’s a make-or-break camp for me.

Harrell has handled it as well as could be expected, discussing the issue without venom or bitterness. The former Tennessee Volunteer was drafted with the No. 16 overall pick in 2007 but has played just 13 games in three seasons because of injuries. And this is the National Football League where first-round draft picks are expected to contribute to the cause, and fast.

“He carries with him the first-round tag, which is good on draft day because you get drafted and everybody says ‘Yay’ and you have a big party at your house,” Thompson said. “I think we have to have a certain amount of empathy. If you are trying the best you can and it’s just not working or you kind of keep getting hurt or whatever it is, you haven’t done anything wrong.

“It’s just the expectations are a lot higher. Now with that comes some good things like contracts and things like that, so there is good and bad, but it’s not just a one-way street.”

The injuries began in 2006 when Harrell was still in Knoxville. First was a torn bicep that limited Harrell to three games during his senior season and kept him out of organized team activities and mandatory minicamp. Then there was an ankle that caused him to miss five games his rookie year.

Harrell missed the 2008 offseason workouts because of back surgery. He was placed on the physically unable to perform list and was activated before the eighth game of the year at Tennessee on Nov. 1. A hip injury that developed as an offshoot of the back problems sidelined Harrell for the final three games of 2008.

Then last year early in training camp, Harrell re-aggravated the back injury and missed the entire season.

Entering the fourth year of his career, Harrell knows he’s working on borrowed time…..  full story from Kareem the Dream here

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