NFL Nation: B.J. Coleman


GREEN BAY, Wis. -- General manager Ted Thompson was probably fortunate to find anyone willing take defensive end Jerel Worthy off the Green Bay Packers' hands.

That the New England Patriots on Tuesday were only willing to give up a late-round pick, likely a seventh-rounder, that is conditional on Worthy making their opening-day roster, should serve as condemnation of Thompson's 2012 draft class.

Most believe it takes three years to evaluate a draft class but less than two-and-a-half years later, that class is almost all gone.

In his 10 years as GM, Thompson has relied on the draft to build a perennial NFC contender but his 2012 class has not helped much. He picked eight players that year and only three of them remain on his roster. Just one of them, defensive end Mike Daniels, is penciled in as a starter.

To pick Worthy at No. 51 overall, Thompson traded up, giving a fourth-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles to move up eight spots.

Thompson will speak to the media on Wednesday during his regularly-scheduled training camp press conference, and the decision to trade Worthy and what it says about that draft class will be discussed.

But before that, here's a player-by-player look at how that class turned out:

OLB Nick Perry (first round, No. 28 overall): Tired of waiting for him to be healthy, Thompson brought in veteran pass-rusher Julius Peppers this offseason to play in the spot where Perry started at times in his first two seasons. Multiple injuries limited Perry to just 17 of a possible 32 games in his first two seasons. He has worked as a backup in training camp.

DE Jerel Worthy (second round, No. 51 overall): Played 467 snaps in a part-time role as a rookie before he tore his ACL in the regular-season finale. Then played just 13 snaps last season after coming off the physically unable to perform list in November. He sustained a back injury lifting weights this offseason, which required surgery in April, and never made it back to practice before Tuesday's trade.

CB Casey Hayward (second round, No. 62 overall): Led all rookies with six interceptions in 2012, but played in only three games last season because of a recurring hamstring injury. Likely will return to his role as the slot cornerback in the nickel package this season.

DE Mike Daniels (fourth round, No. 132 overall): An emerging star and leader on the defense, Daniels posted 6.5 sacks last season (second on the team to Clay Matthews) as a backup and figures to have a greater impact as a starter this season. So far, he's been the star of this draft class.

S Jerron McMillian (fourth round, No. 133 overall): Began the 2013 season as the starting strong safety but was released on Dec. 3 after being phased out of the defense because of poor play. He is in camp with the Kansas City Chiefs.

LB Terrell Manning (fifth round, No. 163 overall): Played only sparingly, mostly on special teams, as a rookie and then was released in the final cuts at the end of training camp last year. Since then, he has been with three different teams and is currently in camp with the New York Giants.

T Andrew Datko (seventh round, No. 241 overall): Released in the final cuts at the end of training camp last year. Spent his rookie season on the practice squad and was never on the active roster. He's currently out of the NFL.

QB B.J. Coleman (seventh round, No. 243 overall): Spent his rookie season on the practice squad and then was released before the start of last season. He's currently out of the NFL.
Tolzein/FlynnUSA TODAY SportsScott Tolzien and Matt Flynn give the Green Bay Packers more stability than they had at this time last year at the backup quarterback position.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Between them, the Green Bay Packers' backup quarterback combination of Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien has played in 47 NFL games and thrown for 3,192 yards and 18 touchdowns.

That's 43 more games, 3,172 more yards and 18 more touchdowns than what the Packers' backups a year ago at this time had on their professional résumés.

How much better should the Packers feel about their backup quarterback situation with Flynn and Tolzien than they did last year at this time with Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman?

"We know now what Scott and Matt can do," Packers receiver Jordy Nelson said. "And they'll be here all the way through training camp. That will be the big thing."

Last year, the Packers dumped both Harrell and Coleman by the time the regular season opened. They had to rely on three backups – Seneca Wallace, Tolzien and Flynn – who spent last offseason with different teams.


And when Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone on Nov. 4, it showed.

Wallace did not make it through his first start, and Tolzien – although he showed signs of a strong arm and above-average athleticism – could not avoid the costly turnovers that may have been due to a lack of experience in the Packers' offense. Flynn, who spent 2008-11 with the Packers before stints in Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, finally steadied the offense and went 2-2-1 to set up Rodgers' Week 17 return.

"Not only did we have to deal with the backup, there was two we hadn't seen and they were thrown into the fire two months into the season," Nelson said. "That will be the big thing. Scott's learning, still progressing. He'll do a great job. Obviously we know how hard he works. Matt's his normal self. We know what he can do, and he proved it again last year."

The Packers re-signed Flynn to a one-year deal that could be worth up $1.068 million (with incentives) and for now, he’s the No. 2 quarterback.

"You need a quality backup, and it's great having him," Rodgers said. "And Scott's done a really nice job for us as well. He's a really hard worker, a gym rat. He's made some great strides."

Tolzien isn't sleeping on a couch in the Packers’ locker room like he did during his early days with the San Francisco 49ers, but he appears to taking advantage of his first offseason in the Packers' quarterback-friendly program.

"Scott's gotten a lot better," McCarthy said. "I think what you're seeing now with Scott Tolzien is he's comfortable with the language. He's definitely comfortable with the footwork. We've changed some things with his mechanics and fundamentals. He's a tireless worker. I don't know if there's anybody in our program that spends as much time at it as Scott does. He's getting better."

For Tolzien, it's a chance to learn both the fundamentals that McCarthy and his assistants teach their quarterbacks and also to absorb the massive playbook without the pressure of cramming a game plan into his brain in less than a week.

As important as all the offseason work – the film study, the quarterback drills, the OTA and minicamp practices – will be for Tolzien, it might be his experience in real, live NFL games last season that will make the most difference.

"When the bullets are flying and you make good plays in a game atmosphere, you realize you can do it," said Tolzien, who completed 55 of 90 passes for 717 yards with one touchdown and five interceptions in three games last season. "And that's a super powerful thing to have that inner confidence that you've done it before."

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If the Green Bay Packers do nothing else at the quarterback position this offseason, at least they know they have someone who has proven he can win games as a backup.

That is a better situation than they were in a year ago, when they had no clue whether Graham Harrell or B.J. Coleman could function with a meaningful NFL game on the line.

Flynn
Flynn
And it's a better situation than they were in in September, when they broke training camp by cutting Harrell, Coleman and Vince Young.

By re-signing veteran quarterback Matt Flynn on Tuesday, the Packers renewed an insurance policy that paid off last season after Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone. Flynn came back on Nov. 12 after failing to win starting jobs with the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders (and following a brief stint with the Buffalo Bills).

Just 12 days later, he rallied the Packers to a comeback tie against the Minnesota Vikings and went 2-2 in his next four starts to keep the Packers in playoff contention before Rodgers returned to win the regular-season finale -- and NFC North title -- against the Chicago Bears.

Whatever Flynn's shortcomings were (likely a lack of arm strength and an unfamiliarity with new offenses) when he got his chances in Seattle and Oakland, he has proven to be comfortable and effective in Green Bay, where he began his career in 2008 and still holds a share of the team’s single-game passing yards record (480 against the Detroit Lions in the 2011 regular-season finale, a mark Rodgers tied in Week 2 last season against the Washington Redskins).

Perhaps the Packers won't need Flynn or they will decide Scott Tolzien is a better option after he goes through coach Mike McCarthy's offseason program for the first time. But for now, they don't have to worry about the unknown that came with Coleman, who never caught on with another team; or Harrell, who, coincidentally on Tuesday, was hired as an assistant coach at Washington State, according to media reports.

Double Coverage: Packers-Cowboys

December, 12, 2013
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IRVING, Texas -- The Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys are two of the most storied franchises in NFL history, but with three games to play in the 2013 season both are on the outside of the playoff chase and in need of a win.

The Packers have fallen on hard times without Aaron Rodgers but won last week against the Atlanta Falcons. The Cowboys are coming off a humiliating loss to the Chicago Bears and have a short week to get ready.

ESPN.com Packers reporter Rob Demovsky and Cowboys reporter Todd Archer debate the matchup in this week's Double Coverage.

Archer: I'll skip the "What's Aaron Rodgers status?" and ask about Ted Thompson's approach to the backup quarterback. The Cowboys pay Kyle Orton a lot of money to hopefully never throw a pass. Is there any regret form the Packers that they did not have a better backup quarterback situation behind Rodgers, considering their struggles without him?

[Editor's note: Rodgers was officially ruled out for Sunday's game on Friday.]

Demovsky: Thompson admitted at the end of training camp that he probably should have signed Vince Young much earlier than he did, although after watching Young for about a month, I'm not sure he would have been any better had the Packers signed back in the spring. Where they probably erred was in not drafting a quarterback. They overestimated what they had in Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman, and neither one developed enough. When Ron Wolf was the GM, he made it a regular practice to draft a quarterback in the middle-to -late rounds. Not all of them worked out, but guys like Ty Detmer, Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck and Aaron Brooks all came up through the Packers' system.

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said Tony Romo is "playing probably as good as he has in his career." Do you agree with that assessment?

Archer: I'd agree with that, sure. It's hard to argue against his numbers. He has 3,244 yards passing with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He's taking care of the ball. He had one really careless throw and it cost the Cowboys big-time in their loss to the Denver Broncos. Romo gets most of the blame for the December/January woes this team has had, but in his last 16 games he has 34 touchdowns and seven picks. It's hard to play better than that. But you know what? He has to. This defense is so bad that Romo has to be nearly perfect. There can be no poor drives. If they don't get points they at least need to chew up time because there's not an offense the Cowboys can slow down right now.

When the Packers won Super Bowl XLV at AT&T Stadium they were able to overcome so many injuries, especially on defense as we talked about. The difference this year is Rodgers missing time, but is there anything more to it than that?

Demovsky: They did end up with 15 players in injured reserve in their Super Bowl season, and then during that game itself they lost Charles Woodson to a broken collarbone. But you know what? This defense played fine early this season and even during the stretch Clay Matthews missed because of his broken thumb. Capers said last week that losing Rodgers had nothing to do with the Packers' defensive slide, but I'm not buying it. The Packers' defense got four turnovers in the Thanksgiving game at Detroit and still got walloped 40-10 because the offense couldn't do a darn thing with them. To be sure, there are issues on defense. Their failure to address needs at safety has hurt them up the middle, where their inside linebackers also haven't played well enough.

It sounds like Monte Kiffin is already taking heat, but how much of it is personnel? When I saw Packers castoff Jarius Wynn playing Monday night against the Bears, to me that was a red flag that there are talent issues, perhaps some of them caused by injuries.

Archer: There are talent issues and there are depth issues. Blame the owner and GM who constructed this team. Blame the coaches -- Kiffin and Rod Marinelli -- for saying the line was a position of strength. The Cowboys thought they had pieces to fit Kiffin's scheme at the start of the year. DeMarcus Ware has not been DeMarcus Ware in part because of injuries, but he acknowledged he has to play better. Bruce Carter was supposed to be the ideal weak-side linebacker and he just has not made any plays. The corners are more man corners and Kiffin has tried to play more man but all of them -- Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick -- have had issues. Sean Lee has been hurt and could miss Sunday's game with a neck injury. He's been good but the defense has been lit up with him on the field, too. It's just a mess. Until Jerry Jones realizes he needs better players, not necessarily better schemes, it will be a mess.

Let's stick with the defensive coordinators. From the outside looking in, it appears Capers is catching a lot of grief too. Are the Packers committed to the 3-4 regardless or could they pull a Dallas and move to a 4-3 in the future?

Demovsky: When the cornerstone of the defense is Matthews, an outside linebacker, I would think they'd have to stick with the 3-4 even if they part ways with Capers, which I'm not sure will happen anyway. Mike McCarthy has continually praised Capers and the defensive staff. It's probably more about personnel. They need a few more playmakers to help out Matthews. They haven't gotten enough production from their defensive front. I'd look for an overhaul in personnel more than a coaching change.

Knowing the temperature in the Cowboys locker room like you do, how do you think they will react to getting steamrolled Monday night? Is this a group that will fight? Or will they pack it in?

Archer: This is where I have to give Jason Garrett credit. This team has fought. Maybe they didn't fight all that much in the losses to New Orleans and Chicago, but they have not packed it in. You saw the last time the Cowboys packed it in in 2010 at Lambeau Field when Wade Phillips was the coach. The Cowboys lost 45-7 and were completely disinterested. Phillips was fired the next day and Garrett took over. There is some gumption to this team. They do work hard. They do the right things. I'll say it again: Most of it is a talent issue. I'd expect the Cowboys to come out with the effort Sunday because they're still very much in the playoff chase. But do they believe they can really make a run? I don't know about that.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When you're a draft-and-develop team like the Green Bay Packers, hitting on less than half of your draft choices probably isn't good enough.

Joyce
McMillian
But after cutting second-year safety Jerron McMillian on Tuesday, general manager Ted Thompson's percentage from the 2011 and 2012 drafts combined dipped below 50 percent.

"You never want to give up on a young guy," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said shortly after McMillian was released.

But that's exactly what the Packers did with McMillian, a fourth-round pick in 2011, and several others from the 2011 and 2012 drafts.

Of the 18 players Thompson picked in those two years combined, only eight remain with the Packers. And only six of those are on the active roster. Randall Cobb, a second-round pick in 2011, is on injured reserve/designated to return. Casey Hayward, a second-round pick in 2012, is on injured reserve.

Because Thompson believes in the theory that the more swings you have at the plate, the better your chances of finding good players, his percentage might be a little bit lower than a team that simply picks every time their turn comes up rather than trading back to acquire more picks.

But look at Thompson's 2010 draft, for example. He made only seven picks, and all are still with the Packers, although first-round pick Bryan Bulaga is on injured reserve.

Here's a player-by-player look at the 2011 and 2012 drafts:

2011 (Total players selected: 10. Players still with the Packers: 4)
  • T Derek Sherrod (first round, No. 32 overall): Returned to the roster last month after nearly two years on the physically unable to perform list because of a broken leg he sustained Dec. 18, 2011. Played his first snaps on offense since his injury Thursday against the Detroit Lions and likely will compete for a starting job next season.
  • Cobb
  • WR Randall Cobb (second round, No. 64 overall): Budding star who led the Packers in catches (80) and receiving yards (954) last season but sustained on leg injury Oct. 13 and was placed on temporary injured reserve. He is eligible to return Dec. 15 against the Dallas Cowboys but has not been cleared.
  • RB Alex Green (third round, No. 96 overall): Sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament as a rookie and despite coming back to lead the team in rushing with just 464 yards in 2012, he was released in the final cuts after training camp this season.
  • CB Davon House (fourth round, No. 131 overall): A part-time starter for the first time this season but has allowed five touchdown catches this season, according to ProFootballFocus.com
  • TE D.J. Williams (fifth round, No. 141 overall): Caught just nine passes in two seasons before he was released in the final cuts after training camp this season.
  • G Caleb Schlauderaff (sixth round, No. 179 overall): Traded to the New York Jets on Sept. 3, 2011 for a conditional draft choice that ended up being a seventh-round pick in 2012.
  • LB D.J. Smith (sixth round, No. 186 overall): Started the first six games of the 2012 season but tore his ACL and was released this past April.
  • LB Ricky Elmore (sixth round, No. 197 overall): Cut at the end of training camp in 2011.
  • TE Ryan Taylor (seventh round, No. 218 overall): Has become one of the team's core special teams players.
  • DE Lawrence Guy (seventh round, No. 233 overall): Spent all of his rookie season on injured reserve and then was on the practice squad in 2012 until the Indianapolis Colts signed him to their active roster.
2012 (Total players selected: 8. Players still with the Packers: 4)
  • LB Nick Perry (first round, No. 28 overall): Has battled injuries each of his first two seasons but has been a starter when healthy.
  • DE Jerel Worthy (second round, No. 51 overall): Played a part-time role as a rookie before he tore his ACL in the regular-season finale. Came off PUP last month and has played in one game this season.
  • CB Casey Hayward (second round, No. 62 overall): Led all rookies with six interceptions last season but a recurring hamstring injury limited him to just three games this season before going on injured reserve.
  • Daniels
  • DT Mike Daniels (fourth round, No. 132 overall): Perhaps the best player from this draft class. Daniels has become a force as a pass rusher with 5.5 sacks this season, which is second on the team to Clay Matthews.
  • S Jerron McMillian (fourth round, No. 133 overall): Began the season as the starting strong safety but was released Tuesday after being phased out of the defense for poor play.
  • LB Terrell Manning (fifth round, No. 163 overall): Released in the final cuts at the end of training camp this year. Played only sparingly, mostly on special teams, as a rookie.
  • T Andrew Datko (seventh round, No. 241 overall): Released in the final cuts at the end of training camp this year. Spent his rookie season on the practice squad and was never on the active roster.
  • QB B.J. Coleman (seventh round, No. 243 overall): Released in Week 1 after Seneca Wallace was signed to be the backup quarterback. Spent his rookie season on the practice squad.
Thomas Dimitroff and Ted ThompsonUSA TODAY SportsThomas Dimitroff's Falcons and Ted Thompson's Packers have emphasized building through the draft.
These days, it's difficult to go more than a few minutes without hearing an NFL general manager utter a version of the newly relevant NFL maxim: Build through the draft.

When Dave Gettleman agreed to be the Carolina Panthers' general manager, he said: "You have to raise your own." Upon his arrival in San Diego, new Chargers general manger Tom Telesco pledged: "We're going to be a draft-driven team. Our main focus will be the draft." More recently, Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim told reporters he wanted "to build this team universally through the draft."

What they really mean, of course, is that they want their players to be homegrown. The draft is the most visible device for that goal, but ultimately it doesn't matter whether their key players were drafted, signed as rookie free agents or acquired from another team's practice squad. More than ever, NFL teams want their personnel process to routinely bring them promising if unproven players who can become good enough to make their final roster.

Tight salary-cap space, the new scale for rookie contracts and the risks associated with free agency have worked to elevate this focus. So when reader @basilwillis3 forwarded me a revealing measure of the Green Bay Packers' work toward this goal, I thought it would be worth fleshing it out for the entire league.

The chart to your right reveals the number of players each NFL team had on its roster, as of Monday night, who had never appeared in a regular-season game for another team. The Packers were at 51 over the weekend, but by Monday the number was at 50 -- still tops in the NFL -- after the swap of quarterback B.J. Coleman for veteran Seneca Wallace. The point: While a few of their players have been on practice squads or in offseason camp with other teams, the Packers' roster is almost entirely homegrown.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson told reporters that he couldn't remember anyone bringing that kind of analysis in one of his personnel meetings, but I'm quite sure that plenty of teams measure their success in related ways. Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery, in fact, recited similar statistics while speaking to reporters this week.

Emery said he performed a mini-study of the NFC North to determine how many players from each team had been on the same roster their entire career, a slightly different measure. He found the Packers had 43, the Minnesota Vikings had 39, the Bears had 29 and the Detroit Lions had 27.

"I firmly believe the best way to build a team is your own original talent," Emery said. "Your draft picks, your college free agents. It helps you in several ways. It helps you manage the cap so that it gives you flexibility so that when you do need a dynamic player to help you fill in you are able to go and get them. You have the cap flexibility to go get that player which can add to the consistency of your team winning year in, year out. It also gives your team a home-grown flavor for your fans and it also allows those players to be together longer and to improve together and to play together as a team for a longer period of time and with more consistency."

I preferred our original measurement because it also takes into account the pro scouting part of a team's personnel department -- the people who are scouring practice squads and preseason tape to utilize another avenue of acquiring the same type of player. It casts a wider and more telling swath, I think.

The range for teams went from the Packers' 50 to Lions' 28. The average was about 38. A few thoughts on what these numbers do and don't mean, in my estimation:

  • Philosophy can beget results. If you are as opposed to signing free agents as Thompson is, you're by definition going to have more homegrown players on your roster. If you're the Denver Broncos, you might be a little less patient with unproven players when you have Peyton Manning, 37, at quarterback. The Broncos aren't necessarily worse at developing their own players. They are working in a tighter window.
  • In some cases, the failures of a predecessor are reflected in current statistics. When, say, Martin Mayhew took over as the Lions' general manager in 2009, he assumed control of an 0-16 team and a depleted roster. On the one hand, there was more opportunity for newly-drafted and/or unproven players to make the team. On the other hand, the Lions had so many weak spots that Mayhew felt compelled to use all available avenues -- including trades and veteran free agency -- to fill some of them.
  • The Atlanta Falcons have made some high-profile free agency moves during the tenure of general manager Thomas Dimitroff, from signing tight end Tony Gonzalez to running back Michael Turner to running back Steven Jackson. So from a national perspective, the Falcons' development of homegrown talent has fallen below the radar. Only the Packers had more such players on their roster by Monday night.

Wallace might be good fit for Packers

September, 2, 2013
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Sure it’s only the backup quarterback -- and that caveat will stick as long as Aaron Rodgers stays upright -- but the Green Bay Packers haven’t found themselves scrambling at that position so close to the start of the regular season in years.

Wallace
In the 5˝ weeks since training camp opened, they have had four different No. 2 quarterbacks. It began with Graham Harrell, whose release on Aug. 24 gave way to Vince Young (who wasn’t signed until Aug. 5). B.J. Coleman had the job, albeit for only two days, after Young was released on Saturday. By Monday morning, Coleman was on the streets, and the Packers signed veteran backup Seneca Wallace.

“You go through that, you create opportunities, you evaluate and you assess,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. “That’s really the matter of what happened. So if it didn’t work out the way people are used to, I make no apologies for that at all.”

Now, McCarthy and his coaches will have one week to prepare Wallace just in case he would have to play in the season opener at San Francisco on Sunday. They had nearly a month to get Young up to speed and that did not work out, but perhaps the process will be easier with Wallace, who has been a career backup.

“He clearly understands the role,” McCarthy said.

What’s more, the 33-year-old Wallace has vast experience in the West Coast offense that McCarthy’s system is rooted in. From 2003-09, Wallace played for the Seattle Seahawks under former Packers coach Mike Holmgren.

“It has a lot of carryover from the West Coast terminology that I’m used to,” Wallace said. “Mike Holmgren was here, and I was with him in Seattle for seven years. There’s a lot of carryover. Now it’s just trying to hone in, especially in this kind of week with the game coming up, and I just got here, trying to take in as much as I can.”

The Packers first expressed an interest in Wallace last season, when they brought him in for a workout in October. The former Iowa State standout was out of football all of last season after he was released by the Browns at the end of training camp. He signed with the New Orleans Saints this past April but was released midway through training camp. He then spent less than a week with the San Francisco 49ers before he left the team on the day of their preseason finale.

There’s no telling how well Wallace would be able to function if he had to play, especially early in the season, and there’s no guarantee he will turn out to be a better option than Harrell, Young or Coleman.

But when Wallace gets acclimated, he might be a valuable resource for Rodgers on the sideline during games and in the meeting room during the week.

“I think it’s been some years since they had a veteran quarterback backup to try to help A-Rod during the game and during the meetings and things like that,” Wallace said. “Just some of the insight that I can provide being around for a long time. I guess I’m the oldest one in the locker room [actually second oldest to Ryan Pickett], which is hilarious. It’s exciting just to be able to keep playing in this journey, and so I’m just excited to be here.”

The case for Seneca Wallace

September, 2, 2013
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In the NFL, so often coaches and general managers rely on the familiar.

Such is the case with 33-year-old Seneca Wallace, who, as Ed Werder first reported Monday morning, was signed to be the Green Bay Packers’ newest backup quarterback.

Take a look at Wallace’s career path. In 2003, he was a fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who at the time had Mike Holmgren as their coach and general manager. Wallace had an unusual career in Seattle, where sometimes he played receiver when he wasn’t needed at quarterback. When he did play quarterback, he went 5-9 as a starter, with his most extensive playing time coming in 2008 after Matt Hasselbeck sustained a knee injury. Wallace started eight games that season, going 3-5.

In 2010, Wallace was traded to Cleveland, where Holmgren had become the Browns' president only a few months earlier. Wallace started seven games over the next two seasons, but won just one of them.

Wallace hasn’t played in an NFL regular-season game since 2011 and his most recent stint with an NFL team was a week-long stay with the San Francisco 49ers, which ended last week in bizarre fashion, with coach Jim Harbaugh saying Wallace would retire and Wallace later denying that.

Which brings us back to the Packers, whose general manager, Ted Thompson, was Holmgren’s top personnel man in Seattle from 2000 to '04. So Thompson not only knows Wallace well but has seen him play in an offense that is similar to what Packers coach Mike McCarthy runs.

Still, familiarity doesn’t always breed success. There’s been little in Wallace’s history to suggest he could keep the Packers afloat in a playoff race if something happened to Aaron Rodgers.

Thompson has been in a scramble mode with his backup quarterbacks ever since he signed Vince Young on Aug. 5 after Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman got off to shaky starts to training camp. Thompson released Harrell on Aug. 24 and Young on Saturday. The Packers briefly had Coleman as the only quarterback behind Rodgers. To make room for Wallace, the Packers released Coleman.

With Wallace, the Packers now expect to have two quarterbacks with ties to the 49ers, their Week 1 opponent. They plan to sign Scott Tolzien, who was released by San Francisco last week, to their practice squad.

But for those who think the Packers signed Wallace to help with preparation for the 49ers, it should be noted that he spent only a week there this summer, and as a vested NFL veteran, the Packers would be on the hook for his entire 2013 base salary (likely the league minimum) if he’s on the Week 1 roster.

Taking the blame for Vince Young

September, 1, 2013
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- After the Green Bay Packers released veteran quarterback Vince Young on Saturday, it was worth discussing -- as we did here -- whether more time in the system would have made a significant difference in his bid to be the team’s backup.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson, the man who waited until Aug. 5 to sign the 30-year-old quarterback, thinks that perhaps it might have done just that.

[+] EnlargeTed Thompson
AP Photo/Morry Gash"I probably should have had him in here earlier," Packers GM Ted Thompson said about Vince Young.
In discussing his roster moves on Sunday, Thompson placed the blame on himself for not acting sooner to bring in the former first-round draft pick.

“Quite frankly, it probably wasn’t fair to Vince,” Thompson said. “We threw a lot on his plate, and the fault is probably mine. I probably should have had him in here earlier.”

Thompson praised Young for being a good teammate and a humble guy.

“If there was fault, it was probably mine,” Thompson said.

The decision to release Young left B.J. Coleman, who spent all of last season on the practice squad, as the only quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers. Coleman’s shaky play early in training camp was one of the reasons Thompson turned to Young in the first place.

The Packers no doubt are exploring all of their options at quarterback, but the list of those available was far from impressive. They were expected to add a quarterback to the practice squad -- Scott Tolzien, the former University of Wisconsin starter who was released by San Francisco last week.

“We’re actively pursuing everything there is in the National Football League at every position,” Thompson said. “I’m not just making this up. At every position, we’re looking to see if we can get better.”

If the Packers stick with Coleman, it wouldn’t be the first time in recent years that they went into the season with an inexperienced backup. They did so last season with Graham Harrell, who like Coleman had previously been on the practice squad. And they did so in 2008 with rookie Matt Flynn.

When asked if Coleman, who completed just 41.2 percent of his passes this preseason, would be an adequate fill-in if something happened to Rodgers, Thompson said: “Well, we think he has a good chance to do that. Again, there’s a lot of things that he hasn’t seen yet. He’s played in preseason games but never played in a regular-season game. We’re getting ready to tee it off, so we’re getting ready to play.”

Note: The Packers have not announced their practice-squad signings yet. But in addition to Tolzien, they are expected to add receivers Charles Johnson and Myles White, tight end Jake Stoneburner and cornerback James Nixon, according to multiple media reports. Those four all were released by the Packers on Saturday. The Packers had hoped to bring back center Patrick Lewis to the practice squad, but he was claimed off waivers by Cleveland. Four others released by the Packers on Saturday were claimed off waivers: running back Alex Green (by the New York Jets), tight end D.J. Williams (Jacksonville), linebacker Dezman Moses (Kansas City) and linebacker Terrell Manning (San Diego).
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It’s easy to say Vince Young didn’t have enough time to learn the Green Bay Packers’ offense.

And it would be true.

After all, any quarterback signed to a new team with an unfamiliar system would struggle to pick things up in less than a month. So when Young signed with the Packers on Aug. 5, he was a long shot from the start, making his release Saturday far from a complete shock.

Young
But after watching Young practice for four weeks and play in all four preseason games, there’s reason to wonder whether an entire offseason with coach Mike McCarthy, offensive coordinator Tom Clements and quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo would have turned Young into a capable backup for Aaron Rodgers.

Young’s throwing motion and footwork didn’t match with what McCarthy teaches in his offseason quarterback training sessions. Although he praised Young for trying to incorporate some of the team's fundamentals, the coaches might have had a hard time breaking a 30-year-old quarterback of his old habits.

Two issues Young has had in his career -- accuracy and ball security -- were problematic in his stint with the Packers might may not have changed no matter how much time he had been in their system. A career 57.9 percent passer, Young completed just 26 of 49 passes (53.1 percent) this preseason. Although he didn’t throw an interception, he fumbled twice (losing one). In 60 career regular-season games (including 50 starts) with the Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagles, Young fumbled 40 times.

To be sure, most of his playing time this preseason came with second- and third-string players, many of whom also will be released this weekend, but he also played against many players of the same caliber and couldn't take advantage.

The Packers now have to figure out where they will turn for a backup to Rodgers. The only other quarterback they have on their roster is B.J. Coleman, who spent all of last season on the practice squad but never made a strong bid for the No. 2 job this preseason.

Almost any quarterback they bring in at this point -- whether through a trade, a waiver claim or a free-agent signing -- would be in the same position as Young in terms of learning a new offense.

If not Vince Young, then who?

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Vince Young didn’t play as well in Thursday’s preseason finale at Kansas City as the Green Bay Packers had hoped.

Young
In 11 series, Young managed only a pair of field-goal drives, one which came without the benefit of a first down after cornerback Tramon Williams intercepted Chiefs quarterback Chase Daniel on the first play of the game. On Young’s other nine possessions, the Packers either punted (seven times), turned it over (once on a Young fumble) or ran out of time at the end of the game.

In his first preseason start, Young completed 14-of-30 passes for 144 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He was sacked twice and finished with a passer rating of 61.0.

Although he played only one series with the starting offensive line and just two snaps with receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, Young did little to convince the Packers he could play winning football if something were to happen to Aaron Rodgers.

On Friday, ESPN’s Ed Werder indicated that Young could be in trouble.

 
The problem for the Packers is that their options appear to be limited.

B.J. Coleman, who played four series against the Chiefs and completed just 2-of-7 passes for 19 yards with no touchdowns and an interception (45.2 passer rating), is not NFL-game ready. He needs another year on the practice squad before he can make a stronger push for the backup job.

The Packers’ investment in Young is minimal financially -- he’s scheduled to make the veteran’s minimum of $715,000 if he makes the roster -- but they spent nearly a month of training camp giving him practice and game reps. If they were to bring in another quarterback off the street, they would be starting over.

There isn’t another quarterback currently on the market that has any experience in coach Mike McCarthy’s system. Graham Harrell, who was cut by the Packers last Saturday, signed with the New York Jets. Even if the Jets release him, a return to Green Bay is unlikely. Matt Flynn, who was the Packers’ backup from 2008-2011, was competing with Terrelle Pryor to be the Oakland Raiders starter. Even if the Raiders go with Pryor, they may keep Flynn as the backup.

Observation deck: Packers-Chiefs

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
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Green Bay Packers starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers did not play in Thursday’s preseason finale at Kansas City, meaning his entire preseason consisted of five series and 45 plays. Outside linebacker Clay Matthews and tight end Jermichael Finley also were given the night off.

The Chiefs also rested many of their key players, including starting quarterback Alex Smith.

The Packers lost 30-8 to finish the preseason 1-3.

Here’s a rundown of the rest of the night:
  • Backup quarterbacks Vince Young and B.J. Coleman split playing time. Young started and played the first two series, and then Coleman came in and played the next two series. They alternated that way the rest of the first half. Young played the entire second half and struggled. He lost a fumble on the first possession of the third quarter and then had five straight drives that ended with punts. Young actually fumbled twice in the third quarter, losing one of them when outside linebacker Josh Martin beat tackle Andrew Datko for a strip sack. On the second one, Ridge Wilson beat Datko and knocked the ball away from Young, but the Packers recovered. Young threw behind receivers several times and completed just 14 of 30 passes for 144 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Coleman finished 2-of-7 for 19 yards and an interception. He was picked off by former Packers linebacker Frank Zombo.
  • On his first – and only – play this preseason, cornerback Tramon Williams came up with an interception, picking off Chiefs quarterback Chase Daniel on the first play from scrimmage. Williams missed the first three preseason games because of a knee injury he sustained early in training camp but looks like he will be good to go in Week 1 at San Francisco.
  • Rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari also played only one play. He was slow to get up after the Packers’ first play from scrimmage and did not return, but he did not appear to be seriously injured.
  • Receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson made their preseason debuts but played only the first two snaps, both of which were running plays.
  • Kicker Mason Crosby, who earlier on Thursday agreed to take a pay cut, made both of his field goals, from 48 and 45 yards, and likely solidified his hold on the job.
  • Defensive tackle Johnny Jolly played extensively and likely solidified his spot on the team after missing the past three seasons because of a suspension. However, his personal-foul penalty helped the Chiefs to their only touchdown in the first half. Jolly delivered a late hit after linebacker Nate Palmer had a strip sack of quarterback Tyler Bray. Jolly’s penalty wiped out what would have been a 13-yard loss.
  • Cornerback Brandon Smith, a receiver in college at Arizona State, gave up all the Chiefs’ three touchdowns – an 8-yard pass from Bray to Junior Hemingway in the second quarter, a 43-yard pass from Bray to Josh Bellamy in the third quarter and a 9-yarder from Bray to Frankie Hammond in the fourth quarter. Smith did also have an interception of Bray early in the third quarter.
  • Rookie running back Johnathan Franklin got his most extensive playing time of the preseason and had a couple of good gains – a long run of 7 yards and a long reception of 14 yards – but struggled mightily in pass protection. He whiffed on several blocks, including one that may have caused Coleman to rush a throw on his interception.
  • Receiver Jeremy Ross may have helped his chances. He caught three passes for 50 yards.
  • Rookie linebacker Sam Barrington, who likely will make the team as a special-teams player, sacked Bray in the third quarter for a safety.
  • Chris Banjo, trying to make the team as the fourth safety, sacked Bray in the fourth quarter.
  • Rookie Micah Hyde took four punt returns. He had three fair catches and a 12-yard return.
  • Coach Mike McCarthy turned the play-calling duties over to offensive coordinator Tom Clements.
  • Tim Masthay punted 28 times during the preseason, including nine against the Chiefs.
  • Receivers Tyrone Walker and Myles White both fumbled in the fourth quarter, hurting their chances to make it as the fifth or sixth receiver.
  • The Packers may make a few cuts on Friday but likely will make the bulk of their roster moves on Saturday, when they have to be down to 53 players.

What to watch for: Packers at Chiefs

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
12:00
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The Green Bay Packers close out the preseason on Thursday at Kansas City. Starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn’t expected to play much, if at all, so here are some other things to watch for:

Backup QBs: Coach Mike McCarthy tried to convince anyone who would listen this week that Vince Young is still competing with B.J. Coleman for the backup job. But the Packers cut Graham Harrell last Saturday not because of anything Coleman did but rather because of the impressive touchdown drive Young put together last week against the Seattle Seahawks. It was the first indication that Young has given the Packers since he signed on Aug. 5 that he’s capable of running this offense with some degree of success. Coleman is at least a year away from being ready to play. The Packers will likely give Young the majority of the playing time against the Chiefs because they need to make him as game ready as possible in case anything happened to Rodgers.

Mason Crosby: I wrote on Tuesday that perhaps the best thing that could happen for the kicker is that there are no field goals to even attempt against the Chiefs, and I was only half joking. After the Packers cut two kickers in less than 36 hours earlier this week, it would seem at this point the only thing that Crosby could do is hurt his chances. After struggling last season and again early in training camp this year, Crosby appears to be in a good groove.

James Starks: After fumbling in Week 2 of the preseason at St. Louis, the fourth-year pro dropped to fifth on the running back depth chart. He played only four snaps -- and did not carry the ball -- the next week against the Seahawks. But DuJuan Harris’ season-ending knee injury suddenly put Starks back in play for a roster spot. The best thing that can be said about Starks, who has missed more games (26) than he has played in (22) during his first three NFL seasons, is that he is healthy. He missed only one practice this summer, and that was because of an illness.

Jeremy Ross: The backup receiver helped his chances of winning the return job with a 33-yard kickoff return and an 11-yard punt return against Seattle last week, but he still has work to do in order to convince the Packers that they should take Randall Cobb off returns and let him focus solely on offense. Ross also is not a lock to make the team as a receiver. He could use one more dynamic kick return to secure his spot.

Players on the bubble: Can Chris Banjo hold on to the No. 4 safety spot? Who is the fifth receiver? Or the backup center? Or the tight ends behind Jermichael Finley? With few, if any, starting spots still realistically up for grabs, it’s these final roster spots that will be determined against the Chiefs.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Perhaps the best thing that could happen now for Mason Crosby is that there are no field goals to even attempt in Thursday’s preseason finale at Kansas City.

Things can’t get any better for the seventh-year kicker, who is trying to win back his job.

When he woke up on Monday morning, he was one of three kickers on the Green Bay Packers’ roster. By the end of Tuesday, he was the only one.

In successive days, the Packers cut kickers Giorgio Tavecchio and Zach Ramirez.

[+] EnlargeMason Crosby (2) and Giorgio Tavecchio
AP Photo/Mike RoemerMason Crosby (2) beat out Giorgio Tavecchio (7) and Zach Ramirez, not pictured, for the Packers kicking job, but may still have work to do.
On Tuesday, Crosby drilled all 14 of his field goals, half of which were into a strong wind.

Meanwhile, Ramirez, who was signed on Sunday, failed to back up his 10-for-11 performance from practice two days earlier.

Ramirez made only 6-of-16 field goals. He got two more attempts thanks Crosby in the second of the two kicking periods because special teams coach Shawn Slocum wanted him to finish on a make. But he couldn’t do it, missing three straight to finish the period.

While coach Mike McCarthy refused to declare the kicking competition over shortly after practice, less than three hours later Ramirez was released.

It’s always possible the Packers will watch the waiver wire and add another kicker before the regular-season opener at San Francisco on Sept. 8. But as long as Crosby doesn’t stumble against the Chiefs, he may have won his job back.

Since Ramirez’s arrival, Crosby has missed just one of 25 field goals.

On Tuesday, Crosby made kicks of 33, 37, 40, 42, 45, 48 and 58 yards into the wind and 35, 40, 44, 47, 51, 54 and 64 yards going downwind. He improved his camp-long mark to 67-of-81, not including 4-of-4 in preseason game action.

“I thought Mason hit the ball very well this week,” McCarthy said. “As you look forward, that’s what he’s done in the early part of his career. I’ve been very impressed with Mason in his last two kicking opportunities, lining up with a three-way competition on Sunday and then today. So, he’s had a very good week."

In one practice, Ramirez missed more kicks than Tavecchio did the entire training camp before he was released on Monday. Tavecchio was 56-of-64 in practice/scrimmage situations and 1-of-2 in preseason games, and the Packers left open the possibility of bringing him back.

Kicking from the same distances as Crosby but with two extra attempts from 58 yards at the end of practice, Ramirez only put the ball through the uprights from 33, 37, 40 and 45 yards into the wind and from 40 and 51 yards downwind.

“He’s only been here three days,” McCarthy said. “He really didn’t have the rhythm and cadence and the snap down. I think it affected him on the first set of kicks, and it carried over the to the second.”

In other developments on Tuesday:

  • Quarterback Aaron Rodgers took all of his snaps with the scout team for the third straight game, which is an indication he may not play in the preseason finale. “There’s a couple of conversations we need to have before we determine the play time for all those guys,” McCarthy said.
  • Rookie receiver Tyrone Walker closed out training camp by making another impressive catch. On second-and-10 from the defense’s 25-yard line, Walker ran a fade route against cornerback Loyce Means and made an over-the-shoulder catch against tight coverage before he went out of bounds at the 3-yard line.
  • Not only did quarterback B.J. Coleman put the ball right on the money to Walker but on the next play, he completed the drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brandon Bostick.
  • Despite practicing in pads, there were no one-on-one pass rushing/passing blocking drills for the seventh straight practice. The last time they conducted the highly-competitive drill was on Aug. 14, meaning there was no change to the one-on-one statistics since the last time they were updated. Said defensive coordinator Dom Capers: “This has been a short week, so we’ve tried to eliminate a few of those things this week.”
  • Following practice, most players walked along the fence in front of the stands on the East side of Ray Nitschke Field and thanked the fans by giving them high fives.
Medical report: Linebacker Dezman Moses returned to practice after dropping out a day earlier because of a toe injury.

That was the only change.

Those who did not practice were WR Kevin Dorsey (toe), CB Jarrett Bush (ankle), CB James Nixon (ankle, knee), S Sean Richardson (neck), CB Casey Hayward (hamstring), S Morgan Burnett (hamstring), LB Jarvis Reed (ankle), LB Brad Jones (hamstring), OL J.C. Tretter (ankle), T Bryan Bulaga (knee), T Derek Sherrod (leg) and DE Jerel Worthy (knee).

What’s next: Wednesday is a travel day in advance of Thursday’s preseason finale at Kansas City.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A day after the Green Bay Packers released backup quarterback Graham Harrell, the beneficiary of that move, Vince Young, tried to act like nothing changed.

[+] EnlargeVince Young
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsPackers backup QB Vince Young will see more action in Thursday's preseason finale at Kansas City.
In one respect, he was correct.

Even though the practice snaps on Sunday indicated he has now assumed the job of backing up Aaron Rodgers, Young still must figure out how to absorb coach Mike McCarthy’s massive playbook in time to be effective if he had to play early in the regular season.

“It’s still a learning process,” Young said. “Nothing’s really changed.”

To review, Young was out of football for 11 months until the Packers signed him on Aug. 5. By the time he arrived for his first training camp practice, McCarthy and his offensive coaching staff already had presented seven of the eights part of their playbook to the players.

Young, 30, has played seven series combined in the first three preseason games, but his performance on Friday against the Seattle Seahawks was enough to convince McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson that the former first-round draft pick of the Tennessee Titans would be a better option than Harrell, who had been with the Packers since 2010.

“Tough decision to release Graham, more so on a personal level,” McCarthy said. “Graham’s been with us for three years. Very fond of him. He was developing and getting better. At the end of the day, we talk about creating opportunities and performance, and we feel at this particular time we’re going in another direction with the two remaining (backup) quarterbacks.”

While McCarthy insisted that Young and B.J. Coleman, who spent last season on the practice squad, are still competing for the backup job, the reality is that Coleman appears to be at least another year away from making a serious run at it.

“I really feel like the job is still up in the air right now,” Young said. “I feel like me and B.J. are still competing. Overall, it’s not about us, really, it’s about the team and pushing each other so we can bring the talent out of both of us as well as Aaron. Just pushing each other. That’s what it’s all about.”

Both are expected to receive extensive playing time in Thursday’s preseason game at Kansas City, meaning Young’s playing time will increase significantly. It also means Young will have to take an increased number of plays into the game. The first three games, Young has been limited to mostly play-action bootlegs, which play into his strengths as a mobile quarterback, and short-to-intermediate passing routes.

While Young has completed 12-of-19 passes, his passing yards (74) and yards per attempt (3.89) indicate how limited his play selection has been. Also, Young often has relied on his scrambling ability, rushing for 58 yards on six attempts.

“You want Vince to be able to take as much as he can and, it has increased each week,” McCarthy said. “And we’ll definitely try to do that this week."

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