Last preseason, Graham Harrell saved himself with a lights-out performance in the preseason finale against Kansas City.
He will not be given that opportunity this summer, with the Green Bay Packers releasing Harrell on Saturday, according to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky. No transactions have been announced by the team.
The move obviously signals that Vince Young will be the No. 2 quarterback.
In three games this summer, Harrell completed 23-of-42 passes for 169 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception. He averaged just 4.0 yards per pass attempt with a team-worst 54.6 passer rating.
Coach Mike McCarthy dedicated a good chunk of Friday’s game against Seattle to determining whether Harrell could thrive with the No. 1 offense. That, of course, would be Harrell’s job should something happen to Aaron Rodgers. Instead of rising to the occasion, Harrell completed 6-of-13 passes for 49 yards with a passer rating of 56.2. His four drives with the No. 1 offensive line and the No. 1 backfield tandem of Eddie Lacy and DuJuan Harris managed just three first downs. A replay review took away a touchdown pass to Jermichael Finley; the big play that moved the team into scoring position was a 25-yard pass-interference penalty.
Even Harrell acknowledged the advantageous situation he was given by playing behind the starting line.
“I think more than anything, just that first offensive line has just seen so much,” Harrell said. “A lot of times, they’ll pick up blitzes even if the quarterback doesn’t make the right protection adjustment or something. They’ve just seen so much and have worked together for what seems like so long, especially that interior three. They can pass off games and pick up blitzes. It’s impressive to watch, but to play behind is pretty fun, so it’s fun to play with them.”
As disappointing as Harrell’s production was how it came. As McCarthy pointed out after the game, the Seahawks dared the Packers to throw the ball by playing eight-in-the-box defenses designed to stop the run.
In three games, Harrell had 14 possessions. He led the Packers to just three points – on a drive that started at the Rams’ 38-yard line – and 15 first downs. His longest completion went for 22 yards.
While Harrell had a miserable performance on Friday night against Seattle, Young completed 6-of-7 passes for 41 yards and rushed for 39 yards in two series. Young led the Packers on an 80-yard touchdown drive against Seattle, which included six first downs and scrambles of 21 and 18 yards.
Of the 91 quarterbacks to play at least 25 percent of the offensive snaps, Harrell was tied for 83rd in yards per pass attempt. Young, interestingly, was 85th, but his mobility is an asset that Harrell lacks. Plus, Young signed just 19 days ago so has room to grow in the system. Harrell joined the team in May 2010.
The cutdown to 75 players must happen by 3 p.m. Tuesday, and the final cut to 53 is due by Aug. 31. Among other cuts reported elsewhere are undrafted receivers Omarius Hines, Alex Gillett and Justin Wilson. That likely signals that Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson are getting healthy, and seventh-round rookies Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey will get long looks against the Chiefs.
With B.J. Coleman unlikely to make the roster when the final cuts are announced, the Packers figure to go into the season with two quarterbacks on the roster for the fifth consecutive years.
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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.