Black and Blue all over: Harrell lucky

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
As he prepared to undergo a second back surgery last summer, Green Bay defensive lineman Justin Harrell was told he had a "slim" chance of playing again, according to this story from Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

In essence, Harrell revealed, the surgery saved his career. He said he probably should not have played at all in 2008, but the end result is that the former first-round draft pick is competing strongly for a role in the Packers' new 3-4 defense this summer.

Harrell: "I've felt fine, the back isn't an issue in training camp. And every day that's the case, that's a good day for me. I try not to focus on it, I try to go out there and play football. I'm just going out there trying to get better, trying to keep these injuries in the back of my head, just think the back is OK, that it's going to hold up."

It's not clear what role Harrell will have once rookie B.J. Raji is signed and assuming that Cullen Jenkins and Johnny Jolly are healthy and available. Harrell is learning to play defensive end for the first time as well. But based on this story, the Packers are lucky to have him on the field at all.

Continuing around the NFC North: