Quarterback Graham Harrell may not have many friends in cyberspace, but he’s plenty well-liked in the Packers' locker room.

The embattled backup has been raked over the Twitter coals, ridiculed through the keys by fans, bloggers and some media, for his poor performances in the first two preseason games, resulting in a passer rating of 55.6.

There are two distinct camps -- those that think Harrell can become a serviceable No. 2, and those that think he couldn’t throw his athletic tape into the trash can from six inches away.

It’s not exactly the Favre-Rodgers debate of 2008, but it’s become the biggest story of training camp. With maybe a half to work in Thursday’s game at Cincinnati, Harrell needs to show he’s worthy of the job he was handed when Matt Flynn left for Seattle in the offseason.

The key Harrell said is to score points and finish drives - something he has yet to show in the preseason games.

"We didn’t do that..." he said. "We’re always confident in ourselves. It’s not like I’ll ever lose confidence in myself. I’m fine."

Harrell said it will come with practice.

“The more reps you get with each other, I think the more consistent you can be, and you kind of feel each other out a little better," Harrell said. "That’s something we have to kind of do on the run and try to do a lot quicker and do a better job of, is just having everyone on the same page and making things happen out there when there are so many moving parts because in the preseason that’s the way it is.”

Coach Mike McCarthy said Harrell’s play in the Cleveland loss last week graded out on film “higher than the [public] perception” and wasn’t as bad as it seemed. “He’s growing,” McCarthy said. “We need to do a better job as an offense. We’ll need him to lead us.”

McCarthy noted that the 53-man roster has yet to be selected and that Harrell is “still part of that process.”

General manager Ted Thompson also threw his support to the player who set numerous NCAA passing records when he was at Texas Tech. He, like McCarthy, said the second-team offense is not doing its part.

Thompson added that he’s looking for “continued improvement” from Harrell and a “bounce back” effort against the Bengals.

“I know there's been a lot of criticism,” Thompson said at a news conference Tuesday. “It's not always easy doing the second half of a preseason game when the chaos is coming at you pretty good. He's doing OK.  He's a very hard worker. He knows the nuances of playing that position. We have faith in a lot of our guys.”

The most vociferous backing of Harrell came from Rodgers, his friend and mentor, who also carped on the backups’ play.

“That unit has to play better,” Rogers said. “The front, they have not played very well. And at the skill positions there has been some poor play as well. You have to have guys around you making plays and [Harrell] has to do a better job decision-making and making the throws he knows he can make.”

Rodgers said Harrell has the full respect and support of his teammates.

"I don’t think anybody in this locker room or the coaching staff is worried about Graham or doesn’t have confidence in Graham," Rogers said. "It’s the preseason. Some stuff can happen at times to make it difficult to be successful. I’ve been there before. I also had some good stretches where I put some good games together and I think Graham is capable of doing the same thing with that unit.“

Thursday’s game at Cincinnati is a critical one for Harrell to prove to himself and his detractors that he can effectively lead an offense. Even if some outsiders are hoping he fails so that the Packers go after a veteran free agent, Rodgers is rooting for his buddy and locker mate.

“I hope he plays very well,” Rodgers said. “I think he’s been doing a good job and probably unfairly taken some harsh criticism at times.”

For more Packers news and notes, follow James Carlton on Twitter @CBSSportsNFLGB.