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Packers with Everything to Prove in 2013: Graham Harrell

Graham Harrell did not have a good preseason in 2012 and had an even worse first play from scrimmage. If he wants to hold on to his backup quarterback job he is going to have to step up his game in 2013, otherwise he may be replaced by B.J. Coleman.


In many places around the league the backup quarterback is the most popular guy on the team, but that has not been the case in Green Bay for a long, long time. The Packers have used the backup quarterback position as a way to train the next generation of quarterbacks for most of the Ron Wolf / Ted Thompson era, meaning the team scouts for prospects they can train up and receive compensation for later rather than finding an aging veteran that can come in and play a game or two. Graham Harrell is the latest player to find himself in this role, but can he hold on to it through the 2013 training camp?

Why his back is against the wall

Although Harrell made a good first impression with Packer fans during the 2011 preseason, he followed this up with some disappointing performances during the 2012 preseason. You may remember that the entire second team offense struggled during the 2012 preseason, but Harrell’s play stood out. He just never looked good enough to be Aaron Rodgers’ back up. Despite these misgivings the Packers struck by Harrell and gave him a spot on the 53 man roster. Then in week 4 of the regular season Harrell got a chance to show everyone what he can do when the bullets are real and this happened…..



After this play Harrell returned to the field two more times, once against the Giants and once against the Titans. In each of these games he went one for two and had a total of 20 yards passing for the year in 2012. Packer fans don’t expect much out of their backup quarterback; but it is safe to say that more is expected than a critical fumble and completing 2 of 4 passes on the year.

Why he could be part of the Packers’ long term plan

A football team isn’t built all at once and there are only so many resources to go around during the offseason. The Packers are not immune from this general rule, so it may not be prudent to expend much time or energy in addressing this position. Harrell could also vastly improve and continue to develop, but this is doubtful considering his age and the amount of time he has already spent in Green Bay.

Chances of making the 53 man roster in 2013

Any chance Harrell has of making the roster this year are dependent on B.J. Coleman. Coleman was a seventh round draft choice of the Packers last year and should push for a roster place this year. If Coleman can take a dramatic step forward in his development there is a chance he could bump Harrell out of the number 2 quarterback position. If Coleman is still raw and the Packers do not bring in any other real competition at quarterback then there is a good chance that Harrell hangs on to his job.

What he has to do to be part of the Packers’ long term plan

The backup quarterback role is a temporary job for the Packers. The days of the Packers getting an older guy, like Doug Peterson for example, and then having him stick around for a number of years are gone. Mike McCarthy is known as a developer of quarterbacks and it seems the team wants to take advantage of that reputation as much as they can. This means the backup position is a way to train up young guys and then watch them move on ideally. Matt Flynn has done it. Brian Brohm tried to do it. Harrell will have to show that he is worthy of getting his opportunity with another organization as well. If he can’t do that than his career is bound to be in the same place as Brohm’s football career currently.

Other Packers with their backs against the wall in 2013:

Mason Crosby | James Starks