Ex-Packers get set for homecoming

2011-10-12T00:05:00Z 2011-10-13T01:20:13Z Ex-Packers get set for homecomingBY JIM THOMAS • jthomas@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8197 stltoday.com

A mere eight weeks ago, cornerback Josh Gordy and the rest of the Super Bowl XLV Green Bay Packers visited President Barack Obama at the White House. Because of the NFL lockout, the traditional trip was squeezed in the day before the Packers' preseason opener.

"It was cool," Gordy said. "It was nice to meet Obama, actually tour the White House, see how everything works. It was a neat experience."

Gordy was a Packer for only three more weeks, released Sept. 3 in the final roster cutdown. He played in only two regular-season contests in 2010, and was on the pregame inactive list for the entire Packers postseason run, but he did receive a Super Bowl ring.

"I keep it locked up — lock box," Gordy said. "I don't wear it too much."

He does bring it out for special occasions, one of which occurred last month with his new team, the Rams.

"Guys wanted to see it here, so I brought it here for them to see," Gordy said. "A couple weeks ago, the DBs went out to eat, so I brought it for them to see it."

Gordy is one of three ex-Packers on the Rams' roster from that Super Bowl XLV squad, and the two other alums had much longer tenures in Green Bay. Cornerback Al Harris was a fixture in the Packers' secondary for the better part of a decade, starting 102 regular-season games over seven seasons and earning two Pro Bowl berths. Outside linebacker Brady Poppinga, who starts for the Rams, spent six seasons with the Packers and was a full-time starter for three of them (2006-08).

On Sunday, all three will play against their former team for the first time when the Rams travel to Green Bay for a noon kickoff at Lambeau Field.

Gordy was just a rookie last season so he was hardly entrenched in Green Bay when he was released. As for veterans Harris, 36, and Poppinga, 32, knee injuries and younger emerging talent at their positions proved to be their undoing in Green Bay.

After suffering a severe knee injury in Game 10 of the 2009 season, Harris never saw the field for Green Bay last season — at least on game day. He was on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list for the first six weeks of 2010 as he completed his rehab from knee surgery. Next came three weeks of practice, the maximum allowed per PUP list rules, at which time the Packers could either release Harris, place him on the active roster or place him on injured reserve. Much to his surprise, they chose to release him on Nov. 8.

"I guess they feel I'm not good enough to play on their team," Harris told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at the time. "That was shocking. It really caught me off guard with this one."

Harris told the Journal Sentinel at the time that Packers coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson led him on, giving him the false impression that he still fit into the team's plans as he completed the PUP-list process.

But that was then. With the season-ending knee injury to Bradley Fletcher during the Rams' bye week, Harris might start Sunday against his old team. So Harris is concentrating on the here and now, not a stroll down memory lane.

"I spent eight years there," Harris said Monday at Rams Park. "Had a great time. A lot of snaps. But today is today, and we've got to prepare like that."

As for any emotions when he jogs onto Lambeau Field Sunday ...

"Oh, man, it's a football game," Harris said. "That's how you've got to treat it. That's how I'll approach it. And whatever (the Rams) need me to do to contribute, that's what I'm going to do."

To date, Harris has participated in one-third of the Rams' defensive plays. Following Ron Bartell's season-ending neck injury on opening day against Philadelphia, Harris became the Rams' third corner. When opponents went with three or four wide receivers, Harris entered the game and played outside, with Justin King sliding in to cover slot receivers.

Minus Fletcher, Harris is the logical choice to start.

"I'm not sure how that will iron out right now," coach Steve Spagnuolo said following Monday's practice. "He lined up with the '1s' today, but we want to take a look at everybody we have."

But Spagnuolo added: "Rod (Hood) and Al are going to have to play some football for us, otherwise we won't have enough."

As for Poppinga, he was attempting to return from a season-ending knee injury suffered last Oct. 17, when released by the Packers on July 29, just before the start of NFL training camps following the end of the lockout.

"The reality is, my time expired (in Green Bay)," Poppinga said. "And it had nothing to do with any hard feelings between myself and them. I can't speak for them, but with me, I feel very happy with where I'm at; very grateful to be where I'm at. There are relationships that I've developed over time, but you know what, those are put aside as I go out and I do what I'm asked to do with this (Rams) team to help this team be successful."

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