Harrell losing grip on Packers' backup job

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers’ backup quarterbacks combined to complete just 15-of-29 passes for 98 yards with no touchdowns and one interception during Friday’s 17-0 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in the preseason opener.

That’s a combined passer rating of 44.9.

It’s safe to say that nothing Graham Harrell, Vince Young and B.J. Coleman did in the game made coach Mike McCarthy feel much better about his backup quarterback situation.

This much is clear: Harrell is losing his grip on the backup job that he held last season.

“Graham has to play better, and it’s tough,” McCarthy said Saturday. “Playing quarterback in the preseason, it’s never clean, and it’s been like that as long as I’ve been in this league.”

Indeed, Harrell and the other backups played with a bunch of second- and third-stringers. Many of those players won’t be on NFL rosters in a month. But, as McCarthy noted, “that’s the way the preseason goes.”

“For quarterbacks particularly, you have to play above that,” McCarthy said.

Here’s a look at what each of the backup quarterbacks did against the Cardinals:

Harrell: In six series, Harrell completed 12-of-19 passes for 76 yards. He threw one interception when he made a poor decision to throw to receiver Jeremy Ross, who got bumped by a defender and knocked off his route. Said Harrell: "I should have come off of him. He got kind of jammed up. Actually a guy guarding another guy came in and hit him, and that's when I threw it." Harrell also was sacked twice and lost one fumble. Both turnovers led to touchdowns. In a total of 35 plays, Harrell’s unit picked up seven first downs. The drives ended with the two turnovers, followed by four punts. Harrell actually made quicker decisions than he did last season, but he often relied on short passes. McCarthy said some of that was based on his play calling, but Harrell still doesn’t look comfortable taking deep shots. His longest completion, a 22-yarder to Tyrone Walker, came on a short slant with a long run after the catch.

Young: He played just 12 snaps over two series, but that was about as much as he could have handled after only three days of practice. Therein lies the problem with bringing in a quarterback a week into training camp: Young may not have time to pick up enough of the offense to make a run at Harrell. McCarthy kept Young in simple situations and allowed him to use his athletic ability by calling several play-action bootlegs. On two of them, Young scrambled for a total of 12 yards. Young’s three passes were a 7-yard slant to Alex Gillett, a dropped slant by Gillett and an incomplete pass for Omarius Hines after Young double-pumped and threw off the timing of the route. Young also was sacked once after he failed to recognize that he had a receiver open. Young’s first drive lasted nine plays and included a pair of first downs, but his second was a three-and-out.

Coleman: The progress he made last year on the practice squad and during this year’s offseason program has yet to carry over to the field. After a woeful performance in the scrimmage last week, Coleman was relegated to No. 4 duties against the Cardinals. In eight plays over two series, Coleman completed just 2-of-7 passes for 15 yards and one first down. His accuracy continued to be a problem. He badly missed Gillett on third-and-8 from his own 9-yard line on the first series and sailed another pass out of bounds on his second series.