Today we take a look at another Green Bay Packer who will be fighting to keep his job this offseason: quarterback Graham Harrell. Harrell joined the Packers in 2010 and spent most of the season on the practice squad as the third-string quarterback, doing the same in 2011. Last season he was active for every game, and was the primary backup quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers.
Unfortunately for Harrell, the one opportunity he had to play meaningful time in a regular-season game was marred by a fumble. After Rodgers was poked in the eye by a New Orleans Saints defender in week four, Harrell came on with the Packers inside the 5-yard line and promptly tripped handing a ball off to Cedric Benson, fumbling a ball that was eventually recovered by the Saints. Yes, I am going to force you to watch this once again.
That is the lasting impression that every Packers fan has of Harrell, and that is the perception that he has to deal with. It is unfair to assume that the coaching staff has focused too heavily on this play at this point, however, as they deal with him on a consistent basis and by all accounts he works hard on the practice field. Once again, that is where he will need to earn his keep. A while back, Devin broke down some of the reasons that Harrell has a lot on the line this season, and most if not all of that article applies to him before the season starts. I argue that he needs to step up even before training camp.
Harrell's arm is not likely to earn him the backup QB job on its own; he has never been known as a player with a exceptionally strong arm. He will need to show better decision-making and a much better command of the huddle and the playbook than B.J. Coleman if he plans to keep that position. Since Coleman's command of the huddle was apparently much-improved during rookie minicamp last week compared to last season, it appears that the competition for the backup job is on. Though Harrell currently holds the job, the wide perception at least among fans is that Coleman will win the job in training camp.
Obviously nothing will be settled until the preseason draws to a close near the end of August, but Harrell will need to have a strong performance in OTAs and minicamp if he wants to maintain an edge over Coleman. If he is outperformed, he could be looking at third-team reps in training camp, and that's not the position from which Harrell will want to play this preseason.