The Green Bay Packers signed quarterback Vince Young to a one-year deal following his workout with the team on Monday, according to ESPN and NFL.com.
The move comes two days after B.J. Coleman threw two interceptions on Family Night to continue his up-and-down preseason. Young joins Coleman and Graham Harrell in the battle to be Aaron Rodgers’ backup quarterback.
The move was surprising and unsurprising, all at once.
One day before the start of training camp, coach Mike McCarthy discussed the difficulty of getting three quarterbacks enough reps behind Rodgers due to the limited number of practices.
“You’re talking about training camp today and the number of reps you have in training camp, the ability to really get three quarterbacks limits is about your limit,” McCarthy said during his pre-camp news conference. “The fourth quarterback, in my opinion, in today’s training camp environment is tough. There’s just not enough reps. So, you like to have them for the fundamental and the individual and you can grow that particular guy but to really think you’re going to have an all-out competition between your second and third quarterback and give them enough opportunities in today’s environment is challenging.”
On the other hand, general manager Ted Thompson talked quite openly about Young before the 2006 draft.
Thompson almost never discusses a specific draft prospect with the media but, with a quarterback platoon of Brett Favre and Rodgers, perhaps he saw no reason to stay silent on a player who he had found impressive.
Calling Young’s pro day at Texas a “hell of a workout,” Thompson came away impressed by Young’s velocity and how smooth he looked in “everything he does.”
Young went 23-1 during his final two seasons. He led Texas to the national championship in 2005, with Young piling up an astounding 467 yards of total offense in the Rose Bowl against USC.
"The more I watch him now, the more I realize that I haven't seen anyone quite like him," Thompson said. "Usually, when you're scouting a player, you think to yourself, 'He reminds me of so-and-so.' But in this case, Young doesn't remind me of anyone. He seems to be one of a kind. The more I watch him, the more I just scratch my head and wonder how he did that."
Young’s upside was so great that Thompson even referenced Michael Jordan.
"I'll go back to the Sam Bowie situation,” Thompson said. “If you have a chance to get Michael Jordan, you get Michael Jordan."
The Packers held the fifth pick in that draft, which they used on A.J. Hawk after Young went third to Tennessee. Young was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2006 and 2009 but his career has been a disappointment.
Young spent his first five seasons with the Titans, started three games for Philadelphia in 2011 and was out of the league in 2012 after failing to make Buffalo’s roster. He is 31-19 in 50 career starts, with 57.9 percent accuracy, with 46 touchdown passes and 51 interceptions. He added 1,459 rushing yards (5.2 average) and 12 touchdowns.
Coleman has been given every opportunity to seize control of the No. 2 job but hasn’t been consistent enough. He threw two interceptions on Family Night and was intercepted by A.J. Hawk earlier in the week.
Harrell, who served as Rodgers' backup last season, has had a solid camp, and he played well on Saturday night. He's worked hard to improve his arm strength and athleticism but he's still not in Young's category in either area.
“I thought Graham played very well,” McCarthy said after the scrimmage. “I thought he did a good job. He went in there, played well, had the long drive on the (No. 1) defense. I thought he did a lot of good things. I thought he was very composed, distributed the ball, had a number of checks at the line of scrimmage. I thought Graham Harrell had a good night.”
Young perhaps could give a good look to help the defense prepare for Colin Kaepernick and, potentially, Robert Griffin III in the first two games. Otherwise, perhaps the best option on the roster was receiver Alex Gillett, an athletic quarterback from Eastern Michigan.
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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.