GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Graham Harrell era as the Green Bay Packers’ backup quarterback is over. Less than 24 hours after Harrell entered the Packers’ preseason game in relief of Aaron Rodgers and produced five scoreless drives, the team has decided to release him and go in a different direction.
That different direction is likely to be Vince Young, who signed with Green Bay less than three weeks ago.
“I don’t think about it,” Harrell said Friday when asked about making the team. “I just try and make plays when my number is called and do my job, and that’s our job all the time.”
Friday night against the Seattle Seahawks, Harrell completed only 6 of 13 passes for 49 yards. Through three games Harrell went 23-for-42 for 169 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception.
Young hasn’t played nearly as often as Harrell so far in the preseason, but he’s been more effective. Young led an 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive Friday and, in only two series, was 6-for-7 for 41 passing yards, as well as 39 rushing yards on three scrambles.
“Vince Young, the dimension of running, that’s something that we really wanted to see,” coach Mike McCarthy said after the game. “I think you’re just seeing Vince get more and more comfortable with what’s asked of him. Very instinctive with big plays. I think Vince is definitely one of the players who took advantage of his opportunities tonight.”
Harrell, 28, signed with Green Bay in May 2010 and spent the first 18 months on the practice squad. When the Buffalo Bills attempted to sign him away in December 2011, the Packers bumped Harrell to their active roster.
Harrell was Green Bay’s top backup quarterback last season. He appeared in four regular-season games, completing 2 of 4 passes for 20 yards. In his one meaningful snap, Harrell fumbled a snap near the goal line in Week 4 against the New Orleans Saints.
Now, it’s likely to be Young’s turn to play directly behind Rodgers.
“It’s not really about me,” Young said Friday, often deflecting questions about himself and answering them about the team as a whole.
“I’m still taking it one day at a time. It’s a lot coming in. I didn’t get OTAs and I didn’t get a lot of camp in, so it’s a lot trying to catch up with signals. Eventually I want to get to no-huddle and stuff like that, but it’s going to take one day at a time. It’s going to take a lot of work behind the scenes.”
Young is approaching the one-year anniversary of the last time that an NFL team released him. That was the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 27, 2012. But Young wasn’t looking at his current opportunity with the Packers as his last chance. He didn’t believe that his career was on the line.
“Not at all,” Young said. “Whatever happens, all I can do is give it my best and don’t hold no regrets. That’s all you can do as any athlete in the locker room, just go in and play football. You can’t have those types of thoughts in your head right there.”
Young had the support of the Lambeau Field crowd Friday. When Young first entered the game to replace Harrell, the 74,030 roared in applause. When he connected with fullback Jonathan Amosa for Green Bay’s only touchdown in the game, Young had officially won them over.