In November 2009, when the Buffalo Bills wanted to sign quarterback Brian Brohm off the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad, the Packers wished their 2008 second-round draft pick well and made no move to retain him.
When the Bills came calling for practice squad quarterback Graham Harrell on Monday and Tuesday, the Packers elected to promote Harrell to the active roster.
They made the transaction official on Wednesday, with Harrell filling the void left by tight end Andrew Quarless, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve because of a serious knee injury sustained last week against the Giants.
“It shows they want to keep you around, and that’s always nice,” Harrell said. “It’s a good thing to be wanted. It was a stressful day trying to decide what’s the best situation. It’s a good thing to be wanted and I’ve always enjoyed it and am happy to still be here.”
In the end, the decision turned out to be an easy one. While Aaron Rodgers is the face of the franchise and the clear front-runner to be named league MVP, No. 2 quarterback Matt Flynn almost certainly will depart at season’s end for a starting opportunity elsewhere.
“That’s definitely a possibility,” Harrell said. “If that were to happen, it probable makes my decision a lot better. Matt’s one of my best friends and I think he’s good enough to start in the NFL in a lot of places. I think he (thinks that), too, and he wants a shot and I think he has a good chance of getting one. That’s definitely a possibility. I’m happy here, regardless of what happens.”
Harrell set the NCAA record for career touchdown passes and finished second in career passing yardage at Texas Tech. Not only wasn’t he drafted in 2009, but he wasn’t a priority undrafted free agent. Harrell failed to get signed after tryouts with the Browns in 2009 and 2010 but was signed by the Packers in May 2010. Then as now, he spent most of last season on the practice squad before a late-season call-up.
“It’s been a crazy road,” he said.
Among the people Harrell sought advice from was Rodgers, who suggested that Harrell stay in Green Bay.
“So happy, so happy,” Rodgers said. “There were some conversations yesterday about his situation. I think he has a bright future in this league. And with Matt's status up in the air about where he's going to be next year, I think Matt has played well enough to get some opportunities to be a starter in this league. When you've got a guy like Graham Harrell who's learned the position and done some really nice things, I think he has, definitely, the potential to be my backup and then a future starter in the league.”
To complete the eight-man practice squad, they signed guard Jake Vermiglio. Vermiglio, a 6-foot-5, 329-pound rookie out of North Carolina State, signed with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent and was released on Aug. 24. He played in 45 games with 32 starts for the Wolfpack, and was an honorable mention on the all-ACC team as a senior. He will wear No. 64.
Packers injury report
Out: T Chad Clifton (hamstring/back); G Josh Sitton (knee). Did not participate: LB Desmond Bishop (calf); LB A.J. Hawk (calf); RB James Starks (knee/ankle). Limited: CB Charles Woodson (concussion).
Sitton has been ruled out but he’s pleased with his progress.
“It just sucks not being able to be out there,” he said. “I’d like to be back out there tomorrow. That would be my timeline. They’re going to see where I’m at, and they’re going to be the ones that make the decision. I don’t really have a timeline that I could say.”
Woodson did some work at practice, as part of the concussion protocol to earn full medical clearance, coach Mike McCarthy said. At inside linebacker, McCarthy said Hawk is “further ahead” than Bishop and “getting close” to returning to practice. Bishop, on the other hand, probably won’t play for a second consecutive week.
Raiders injury report
Did not participate: QB Jason Campbell (collarbone); WR Jacoby Ford (foot); DT John Henderson (knee); CB Chris Johnson (not injury related); RB Taiwan Jones (hamstring); RB Darren McFadden (foot); WR Denarius Moore (foot); WR Chaz Schilens (foot). Limited: TE Kevin Boss (hip); DT Tommy Kelly (toe); DE Jarvis Moss (hamstring); DE Trevor Scott (shoulder); DT Richard Seymour (knee). Full: S MIchael Huff (ankle).
The Raiders will catch a break from Mother Nature. Oakland hasn’t played in anything close to a cold-weather game this season, with home games against Denver and Chicago and road games against San Diego, Minnesota and Miami in November and December.
The forecast for Sunday is 36 and sunny, with south-southwest winds at 10 mph.
“That’s fine. That’s the schedule we have,” Raiders coach Hue Jackson said in a conference call with Packers beat reporters. “We’ve got to come down there and play in an unbelievable stadium against a really good football team. We look forward to the challenge.”
-- Punter Tim Masthay was named NFC special teams player of the week. He placed four punts inside the Giants’ 15-yard line, had a net average of 44.2 yards and allowed 0 return yards. He is the first player in team history to place at least four punts inside the 20-yard line in consecutive games since the statistic began to be recorded in 1976. It’s the second NFC award of Masthay’s career. The first? At the same stadium against the Jets last season.
“I’ve enjoyed the Meadowlands, to say the least,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind it if all eight road games were in New York.”
-- Rodgers, along with the Saints’ Drew Brees and the 49ers’ Alex Smith, is nominated for the FedEx Air Player of the Week. Rodgers completed 28-of-46 passes for 369 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception against the Giants. To vote, go to NFL.com/FedEx.
-- Rodgers also is nominated for the GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Week for his game-winning touchdown drive. Other nominees are the Broncos’ Tim Tebow and the Cardinals’ LaRod Stephens-Howling. To vote, go to NFL.com/GMC.
-- NBC has kept next week’s Ravens-Chargers game as its Sunday night broadcast, and the Packers’ game at Kansas City will remain at noon. This week’s Packers-Raiders game, in case you missed last week’s announcement, was scheduled to start at noon but was moved to 3:15 p.m.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.