GREEN BAY – As the gaggle of reporters made their way over to Graham Harrell following Sunday’s 28-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints, the Green Bay Packers backup quarterback turned around just as his disposable razor was falling out of his locker, nearly smacking him in the head.
It had been that kind of day.
Harrell’s first NFL regular-season snap – the result of quarterback Aaron Rodgers being poked in the right eye during a facemask by New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins on the previous play – turned out to be a disaster: When Harrell took the exchange from center Jeff Saturday, he turned and tripped as he tried to hand the ball off to running back Cedric Benson. The play, which came on first-and-goal from the Saints’ 1-yard line, not only cost the Packers points but led to New Orleans’ go-ahead touchdown.
“A snap’s a pretty basic deal, you know? We can’t have that,” Harrell said after putting the wayward razor away. “The snap was perfect. I just tripped. I probably just should’ve taken the loss of yards instead of sticking it out and trying to get it to Ced and fumbling.”
Rodgers said he was having trouble with depth perception after Jenkins’ poke and he and the Packers medical staff decided it’d be best if he came out of the game. According to referee Jeff Triplette, NFL rules would have allowed Rodgers to stay in the game if he had been able to, because the injury was the result of a penalty on the opposing team.
“He could not refocus with his right eye, so with that the medical staff wanted to get him to the sideline,” coach Mike McCarthy explained. “I don't know if they put the eye drops in; that was the discussion on the field. That's why we took him out at that point. But he wanted to stay in. We took the high side of caution here and unfortunately it resulted in that fumble."
While Rodgers was being attended to, Harrell was taking snaps from backup center Evan Dietrich-Smith on the sideline because Triplette had told Saturday that the two could not work on exchanges.
“That’s something I never heard before,” said Saturday, who is in his 14 th NFL season. “I asked (Triplette), ‘Hey, can we get a couple snaps.’ They said, ‘Aaron’s going to stay in,’ and then Aaron left, and I said, ‘Hey, can we get a couple snaps?’ And he said, ‘No, you’re not allowed to have snaps.’ I’ve never heard that before. I’m not sure how that played out, but that’s tough. It’s not like Graham and I do a ton during the week. We probably have 10 snaps a week. What are you going to do?”
Harrell said there was “a little indecision” on whether Rodgers would be ready to go in the next time the Packers got the ball, but Rodgers did return – and ended up throwing an interception.
“I wanted to stay in the game – obviously, I don’t like coming out for anything,” Rodgers said. “(I) just didn’t have any depth perception immediately thereafter and so I figured we were a yard away and we could punch that thing in there. Unfortunately, didn’t happen.
“I mean, that play could happen to anybody – including myself. We run an outside zone on the goal line there’s often penetration and (Harrell) was trying to make a handoff while falling down – which is something that I’ve done before. It’s just unfortunate that we weren’t able to complete that handoff. He’ll be fine.”
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