NFL roster cuts: AFC | NFC

Preseason2: Graham Harrell makes it tough

August, 17, 2012
8/17/12
7:00
AM ET
Reviewing Thursday's action at Lambeau Field:

Cleveland Browns 35, Green Bay Packers 10

Preseason record: 0-2

Of interest: You wouldn't call this the sharpest game in preseason history for the Packers, but it's worth noting they began sitting starters after a couple of series and the Browns left theirs in for most of the first half. The first-team offense played the first quarter, scoring one touchdown -- Aaron Rodgers' 20-yard strike to receiver Jordy Nelson -- in 13 plays over three series. …. The first-team defense made an immediate impact when linebacker A.J. Hawk stood up running back Montario Hardesty and cornerback Charles Woodson stripped the ball. … Your biggest concern, no doubt, is another uneven performance from backup Graham Harrell, who completed 12 of 24 passes for 100 yards and two interceptions -- while also being called for intentional grounding on a pass from the end zone for a safety. Not all of it was Harrell's fault, of course, and one of the issues in evaluating him is the pass protection of the second-team offensive line. Meanwhile, tight end Ryan Taylor fell on one of the interceptions. But I think we can all agree that Harrell rarely looked comfortable and struggled to be in command. On Twitter, I threw out the suggestion that the Packers sit Rodgers next week and start Harrell with their first-team offense to get a more definitive look at him. I doubt that will happen, but the Packers are reaching crunch time on this issue. … Rookie cornerback Casey Hayward was around the ball but dropped an interception. … You hate seeing receiver Randall Cobbget the ball stripped the way he did in the second quarter. … Did you know that NFL coaches will be penalized 15 yards for challenging a turnover call this season? Mike McCarthy found that out the hard way after Cobb's fumble, but he implied afterward that there was more going on behind the scenes on the play. (All turnovers are reviewed automatically this season.)

Local coverage (in lieu of BBAO): Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "This is no time to push the panic button with more than three weeks remaining until the regular season begins. But the Packers have their work cut out for them if they want to live up to predictions that have them contending for a Super Bowl berth." … Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "The hardest decision general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy will have when rosters are trimmed to the final 53 will be whether to pick Graham Harrell as the backup behind Aaron Rodgers." … Former backup Matt Flynn played better in the preseason than Harrell, notes Rob Demovsky of the Press-Gazette. … Rodgers, via Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "We've got a lot of confidence in Graham. We're not worried about him. They kept their first-team defense in for the majority of the first half, I think the whole first half, and I know what that's like at times." … McCarthy on the penalty call: "[F]rankly I'm not even going to get into it because I talked about it for four series with the referee, so hopefully we're on the same page. It's an experience that we can learn from. The new rule, obviously with all the turnovers being reviewed, if you throw the flag, it's an unsportsmanlike penalty, so that was the correct call." … The Packers could run the no-huddle offense for an entire game, writes Demovsky.

Up next: Thursday against at Cincinnati Bengals

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