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Vince Young is improving, but he has a long way to go.

In the right direction

By JASON WILDE
 
GREEN BAY –Although wasn’t a full-fledged admission, there was an acknowledgement. When Ted Thompson was asked Wednesday morning if he wished he’d signed quarterback Vince Young in the spring instead of waiting until Aug. 5, the Green Bay Packers general manager didn’t say no.

“Oh, I suppose,” Thompson replied during his weekly press briefing at Lambeau Field. “But we don’t really lament about certain things. We had sort of an idea how we wanted the quarterback group to look going into training camp, and we got a little light there. Like I said when we first signed him on, it was something we wanted to take a look at.”

The Packers carried four quarterbacks throughout the offseason – starter Aaron Rodgers, incumbent backup Graham Harrell, third-stringer B.J. Coleman and undrafted rookie free-agent signee Matt Brown – but Brown suffered an injury shortly before training camp and was released.

The Packers had expressed an interest in Young in the spring, and Thompson was intrigued by him coming out of the University of Texas in 2006. Even after watching Young at the Longhorns’ college pro day in March, the Packers took a wait-and-see approach with him.

The good news is that after looking horribly overwhelmed in his first three practices, Young has looked better this week. In fact, his practice Wednesday was probably the best he’s had since his arrival – a good sign that he might fare better on Saturday night in the Packers’ second preseason game, against the St. Louis Rams, than he did in the opener against Arizona.

The bad news? He still has a long way to go.

At this point, the Packers are basically splitting the offensive snaps evenly between Harrell and Young, while relegating Coleman to purely scout-team reps.

“Vince Young is clearly different today than he was this time last week. He’s progressing,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “We’ve been able to spend some extra time with him. It’s been beneficial. Hopefully we can give him some more reps than he had against Arizona. We’ll have a bigger play selection for him.”

Because the Packers waited to sign him, Young missed seven of the eight offensive installations the Packers did with their playbook. Since it’s impossible to play catch-up, Young is being taught plays gameplan-by-gameplan, and coaches are accommodating him by letting him pick a menu of plays that he likes. Against the Cardinals, Young wore a wristband that contained the plays he liked to help him tell the players in the huddle the play.

“Getting out of the huddle and just being comfortable with where to go with the football, things like that … he’s getting better,” McCarthy said.

One thing Young hasn’t done much of throughout camp is throw the ball downfield, although he did uncork a semi-deep throw to Myles White Wednesday. The other problem with Young coming in so late is that McCarthy, offensive coordinator Tom Clements and quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo couldn’t work with him on his fundamentals.

“I think he’s thinking less,” McAdoo said. “There was a lot of thinking early on and even earlier this week. Especially in individual drills with the fundamentals, I think he looked faster, I think he looked more explosive, more fluid. There’s less thinking going on there.”

As an example, McCarthy explained how he has his quarterbacks set their feet while waiting for a shotgun snap. Young, in his time in Tennessee, Philadelphia and Buffalo, never did it the Packers’ way.

“We kind of said, ‘Hey this is the way we do it.’ Just going through the individual drills and the footwork drills, we don’t want to change a whole lot to Vince right now mechanically because the emphasis on getting ready to play in a game from a scheme standpoint,” McCarthy explained. “But we turn on the game tape after the Arizona game, and here he is using our footwork in the gun. He’s played a lot of football. He’s adjusting and really trying to get in-tune with the timing and the footwork and how it fits our passing game.”

Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today” on 540 ESPN, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.

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