Green Bay Packer backups take positive strides Saturday night
ST. LOUIS—Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman made positive moves in the battle for the Green Bay Packers’ backup quarterback job Saturday night in a 19-7 exhibition victory over the St. Louis Rams at Edward Jones Dome.
Harrell followed Aaron Rodgers in the order of substitution and compiled a passer rating of 62.1. He also scrambled twice for 11 yards.
“I thought he was better this week than last week,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “What we’ve really been stressing with him is to play out of the pocket. He did a good job of that tonight.”
Vince Young was the third man in the game and ended with a rating of 60.9. He carried once for 7 yards.
Coleman replaced Young to start the fourth quarter and finished with a 106.6 rating.
“B.J. did a good job,” said McCarthy. “He had a couple plays he wishes he had back, but he saw pressure from their defense and did a couple things at the line of scrimmage.
“He needs to settle down still a little bit but B.J. improved today.”
Said Coleman: “It was a good feeling to be able to go out there and get that shot to get into a rhythm. I think that drive went 15 plays. ‘Stony’ (Jake Stoneburner) made a great play there at the end. It was a real credit to those guys up front tonight. They played well tonight.”
As for Rodgers, McCarthy said: “Aaron was very sharp. I was pleased with Aaron.”
Tight end Matthew Mulligan was the only player who was injured in the game, according to McCarthy.
He suffered an arm injury in the first quarter and didn’t return. McCarthy said he had no information on the degree of injury.
Running back Eddie Lacy, who had been iffy with a hamstring injury, took most of the snap in the first three series.
“I briefly visited with him before the game to make sure he was all the way back from his injury,” said McCarthy.
Sitting out were wide receivers Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey; tight ends Andrew Quarless and Ryan Taylor; running back DuJuan Harris; defensive end Datone Jones; and cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Tramon Williams.
“We need to get healthy,” McCarthy said. “We had 15 guys that didn’t play tonight. That has to improve.”
Job battles raging
With the exhibition season half over, McCarthy is eager to start settling some of the tight battles for jobs.
“You can say that at quarterback, cornerback, right tackle,” he said. “This is the time the individual that will be the guy needs to jump forward.”
He said the kicking competition between Mason Crosby and Giorgio Tavecchio will go on.
“It was important for them to improve off Family Night,” said McCarthy. “It was important to give them the opportunities. The way the game was called reflected that. We’ll continue to let those guys battle it out.”
Bottom line from Saturday
By winning, McCarthy evened the season record at 1-1 and his career summer mark at 15-15.
The Packers rebounded from a 17-0 loss to Arizona eight days ago.
“I wasn’t really concerned about the points from last week,” McCarthy said. “Clearly, I understand the outcome of the game.”
He said his priorities were chances for players, overall level of performance and winning.
“If you don’t like that, I get that,” said McCarthy. “Trust me. I want to win every play, every game. But we’re a young football team. We’ve got a lot of guys battling to be on our 53.”
On Friday night, the Packers will meet the Seattle Seahawks, projected by some along with Green Bay as an NFC contender, at Lambeau Field. As the third exhibition game, McCarthy will play his starters probably into the early portion of the third quarter.
“I’ve got to get the team ready to play this game and try to get them into in-season mode,” he said.
“Our football team took a step forward tonight. Obviously, we still have a lot of work to do.
“I felt very good about our defense, particularly on third down and the ability to keep them out of the end zone.”
Crosby on right track
Since his abysmal performance in the team’s intrasquad scrimmage two weeks ago, Crosby has been staying consistent. On Saturday, he took a step toward keeping his kicking job in Green Bay.
Crosby went 3-of-3 at St. Louis, making kicks from 34, 48 and 30 yards, the last one slipping over the crossbar after being tipped. Meanwhile, Tavecchio missed a 49-yard attempt wide left and converted from 38 yards.
“I look at it as situations,” Crosby said. “Yeah, I had a really bad Family Night, but since then I’ve been hitting the ball really well and really working on what I need to and making sure I get good lift, good solid lift and that’s all I can do. So just focus on that, keep working on that and keep my tempo.
“I felt my tempo was good tonight. I’m just happy they all went through.”
Tight end competition
Jermichael Finley was the headliner at tight end Saturday. Behind him, the competition continues.
Mulligan, the blocking tight end, suffered the arm injury. Elsewhere, Brandon Bostick did some damage in the passing game with three receptions for 29 yards, Stoneburner hauled in an acrobatic 9-yard touchdown and D.J. Williams had an up-and-down night.
The third-year tight end dropped a pass up the seam from Harrell over a linebacker that could have resulted in a long gain. He later caught back-to-back passes from Harrell for 10 and 7 yards.
“Progressing,” Williams said. “Getting opportunities out there, take them. Have to capitalize on all of them, not just some of them. As a tight end unit, I feel we did great. J-Mike had catches, Bostick had catches, myself, ‘Stony’ had the touchdown, so we were rolling today. It was very good for us as a group.”
Bostick has been standing out. After a year spent on the practice squad, the former college wide receiver is getting comfortable.
“I definitely think I’m starting to get in a groove,” Bostick said. “I’ve been getting more reps because of injuries. So I’m taking advantage of every rep I get and it’s starting to show up in the game.”
Tyler Dunne of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.