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Backup quarterbacks all take positive steps

Aug 18, 2013 -- 1:44am
 
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After two glaring mistakes last week, Graham Harrell showed improvement.
 

ST. LOUIS – Graham Harrell didn't make any of the glaring mistakes he did a week earlier. Vince Young didn’t look completely out of sorts. And B.J. Coleman, relegated to almost exclusively scout-team snaps in practice all week, got the Green Bay Packers into the end zone before Aaron Rodgers did.

So while the Packers’ backup quarterback situation certainly isn’t a solid one just yet, all three candidates performed better in the team’s 19-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams Saturday night at the Edward Jones Dome than they had in last week’s shutout loss to Arizona.

And with two preseason games left, the competition is heating up – at quarterback and elsewhere.

“Definitely, you could say that at the quarterback position, you could say that at the corner position, you can say that at the right tackle position,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of the various roster battles going on. “This is the time that the individual that’s going to be the guy in that particular position or personnel grouping, they need to jump forward. It’s time for guys to jump forward. This is what usually happens in the second preseason week or the third preseason week, and that’s what you look for.”

While there weren’t any major leaps forward at quarterback, the group did improve.

Harrell, who threw an interception and lost a fumble on a sack last week against the Cardinals, didn’t get much help from his would-be pass catchers.

He took over after Rodgers’ called it a night after three series, and on his first drive, he saw tight end D.J. Williams drop a perfectly placed pass on a tough throw down the seam. While Harrell had a nice 13-yard completion to tight end Brandon Bostick to keep the drive alive on a third-and-9 play, Harrell threw too high on a second-down screen pass to Johnathan Franklin, then had to scramble after center Greg Van Roten was beaten badly off the snap on an incompletion to Tyrone Walker.

On his next drive, Harrell scrambled for a 10-yard gain and had a nice in-rhythm throw to Bostick for an 8-yard gain, but Walker dropped a third-and-1 pass that would have kept the drive going at the St. Louis 37. Harrell then scrambled for a 2-yard gain when coach Mike McCarthy decided to go for it on fourth-and-1, but a 15-yard personal foul on rookie guard Lane Taylor for a peelback block wiped out the run and forced a punt.

Harrell got the ball back with 35 seconds left in the half and was able to put points on the board, however, as back-to-back 10- and 7-yard completions to Williams to start the drive got the Packers in scoring position. Harrell then threw incomplete to Alex Gillett when he had Williams streaking wide open down the right seam. Giorgio Tavecchio hit a 38-yard field goal with 2 seconds left until halftime to give the Packers a 9-0 lead.

“We did some good things,” said Harrell, who completed 5 of 10 passes for 44 yards and a 62.1 passer rating. “We moved the ball all three drives, we did some good things, but we’ve got to finish the drives. I think we improved definitely as a unit and put some points on the board. We just had some costly mistakes end some drives and that’s the way it goes sometimes. Overall, I think we improved and did some good things. We just have to work on finishing drives.”

Young took over at quarterback to start the third quarter, when a Jarrett Bush interception on the Rams’ opening series of the second half set up Mason Crosby’s 30-yard field goal. He played three series and finished 5 for 9 for 26 yards and a passer rating of 60.9 with a 7-yard run to boot.

Then there was Coleman, who engineered a 13-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a terrific 9-yard touchdown pass to undrafted rookie tight end Jake Stoneburner. It was a terrific throw by Coleman, who was erratic the rest of the night but definitely showed progress.

“I’m sure there’s some areas where I need to brush up and get better,” said Coleman, who threw two interceptions in the Family Night Scrimmage then had two late series against the Cardinals. “I think the biggest thing is we took a group of men who hadn’t worked a ton together and put a (13)-play drive together and put it in the end zone. That’s pretty special. Those guys did a heck of a job.”

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