Throughout Packers training camp, there have been gripes, grumbles, questions and concerns about whether or not Graham Harrell can be a serviceable backup quarterback. After all, it’s a pretty important job: If something were to happen to reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers, does Green Bay have someone to keep the potent offense rolling?

There is no shortage of opinions on Harrell’s qualifications and abilities. One camp agrees with coach Mike McCarthy’s company line that the 27-year-old who broke myriad college passing records at Texas Tech just needs more time, needs more reps to develop. The other camp points to Harrell’s dismal performance in the Packers’ 35-10 preseason loss at home Thursday night to the Browns as indisputable evidence that he simply can’t do it.

Working mostly with the backups, Harrell completed 12 for 24 passes for 100 yards (4.2-yards-per-attempt) with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Though to be fair, one interception came on an end-of-the-half Hail Mary and on the other his receiver fell down during the route.

“He had a couple hard-luck interceptions,” Rodgers said after the game. “Those are just unfortunate things that happen.”

The pass protection wasn’t great, there were some drops and he was going against Cleveland’s starters in the first half. But even the most devout Harrell disciple would probably still admit he didn’t look good. On one play, instead of taking a sack, he lofted a lob toward the sideline that was picked off, though luckily just barely out of bounds.

Even with time to set his feet, Harrell settled for short, underneath throws. His arm strength has always been a question and its shortcomings were evident on the Hail Mary pass thrown from his own 46-yard line that was easily intercepted at the Browns’ 9-yard line, a 47-yard throw that took all Harrell could muster.

“I’m sure he wants to clean a few things up,” Rodgers said. “But he got into a rhythm there in the fourth quarter on that drive and we’ve got a lot of confidence in Graham. We’re not worried about him.”

McCarthy said he was pleased with Harrell’s scrambling ability and how he ran for a couple of first downs.

“That’s something that I would not say was part of his game last year,” McCarthy said after the game. “I think he’s really improved in that part of the pocket awareness. I thought he was put in some tough spots. On the negative side, he missed some throws. We’ll take a close look at it and I can promise you that no one will correct or detail the play of the quarterback better than our coaches.”

McCarthy has a proven track record developing quarterbacks. A full season on the 53-man roster (Harrell began the last two seasons on the practice squad) and another offseason of McCarthy’s vaunted quarterback school could very well turn him into a viable, trusted passer. 

When asked what he would say to fans who aren’t sold on him as the backup quarterback, Harrell said: “I’d like to say we’ll evaluate [Friday] what happened [Thursday]. We’d like to score more points and that’s the key -- score points and finish drives and we didn’t do that [Thursday night]. We’re always confident in ourselves. It’s not like I’ll ever lose confidence in myself.”

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