Found July 18, 2013 on
Football and Futbol:
On September 30, 2012, Graham Harrell played in his first game for the green and gold. Stepping in for Aaron Rodgers was no small task, especially in the red zone of a tight game. The result: a disastrous fumble on his first and only play, not the impression a backup quarterback wants to leave in limited duty.
Fortunately, the Packers won the game and the botched play never stuck to Harrell like the interception did that ultimately drove T.J. Rubley out of the NFL.
Although McCarthy and the Packers have patiently stuck by #6, even when many pundits thought they needed to bring in another quarterback, Harrell knows this could be a make it or break it season. Entering the final year of his contract, Harrell is looking to parlay the role of backup quarterback into a future starting job, much like Matt Flynn and a number of Packer backups did before him. If he fails to impress, chances are the Packers will find another project and he will become another journeyman quarterback in the he NFL.
Backtracking into Harrell’s past uncovers an incredible string of accomplishments. Playing in Coach Mike Leach’s pass happy offense at Texas Tech, Harrell broke all kinds of passing records including career touchdown passes with 134. He went on to win the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award after his senior season and finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting. Not bad for a guy who went undrafted in the spring of 2009.
Looking to play professionally after his draft day disappointment, Harrell signed on in the CFL after failing to latch on with any NFL team. After being released in the spring of 2010, the Packers pounced. Most of the next two seasons saw Graham Harrell toiling on the practice squad. Harrell needed help to make the roster in 2012.
Working with training guru Bobby Stroupe for 18 weeks in the offseason prior to the 2012 season, Harrell emerged with 14 pounds of added muscle and an attitude that the Packers backup job was his for the taking. Although many outside of 1265 Lombardi Avenue openly wondered why the Packers brought in little competition for Harrell in training camp, #6 showcased his talents in the final preseason game. Against the Chiefs, Harrell fired two touchdowns and put up a perfect quarterback rating. While the performance silenced his critics somewhat last year, Harrell must come into camp this season being that kind of quarterback.
Aaron Rodgers feels like it will happen. Quoted by the Green Bay Press Gazette earlier this month, Rodgers noted about Harrell, “I think he’s really improved. I think you saw it last year throughout the season as he became more comfortable.”
With Green Bay’s strong history of backup quarterbacks developing into starting caliber players over the last twenty years, Harrell has a good shot to make it. Last season, he added the necessary strength and flexibility to catapult himself into the backup role. This year, reports indicate he is feeling very comfortable in McCarthy’s offense, a significant step in his progression.
All signs point to Graham Harrell being the latest Packers project to make it big. Now all Harrell has to do is prove it on the field.
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