Patriots star safety and key veteran influence Rodney Harrison returned to practice on Thursday after some predicted he would miss the remainder of the playoffs. His most recent injury, reportedly a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee, came on Dec. 31 in the final game of the regular season against the Titans.
Since that time, Harrison was selected by his teammates to receive the 2006 Ed Block Courage Award. The honor is bestowed annually upon the player who best exemplifies the principles of courage and sportsmanship while also serving as a source of inspiration. Harrison and award winners from the 31 other NFL teams will be honored at the 28th Annual Ed Block Courage Awards Banquet in March.
Harrison's return to the practice field will certainly come as a surprise to some fans, given that a few sources were reporting his knee injury was actually a partially torn ligament, and that he would miss the rest of the playoffs. Harrison's agent, Steve Feldman, denied that he'd torn a ligament in the knee a week ago Thursday.
The 34-year-old veteran and NFL's all-time leader in sacks by a safety (28.5) already returned from a broken shoulder blade suffered in the Patriots last meeting with the Colts on Nov. 5. That injury left him sidelined for six consecutive games. He suffered the knee injury in only his second game back on the field when Titans wideout Bobby Wade hit him low on a crackback block. He left the game limping and has not been seen on the field since, though he was spotted in the Patriots locker room on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. He declined requests for comment on Thursday, but donned his usual smile and walked without a noticeable limp.
This was Harrison's third serious injury in 15 months. He only played in three games in 2005 before suffering a season-ending injury to his left knee in which three major ligaments were damaged.
Prior to Thursday, Harrison hadn't been seen at practice since before the Titans game. He's listed as "Doubtful" on this week's injury report, giving him a 25 percent chance of returning to the field on Sunday when the Pats take on the Colts in Indianapolis' RCA Dome.