Where's Coleman?

B.J. Coleman had a breakout performance at training camp by leading a bunch of backups to a touchdown against the No. 1 defense. So, why has he played less than 2 minutes in the preseason? An AFC scout who was in attendance on Thursday offers one interesting possibility.

For one series, B.J. Coleman put it all together.

The strong-armed seventh-round draft pick completed all six attempts (not including two clock-killing spikes) in leading a mix of second- and third-string players to a touchdown in a two-minute drill against the No. 1 defense on Tuesday.

Coleman is something of a man of mystery, which might be exactly what the Green Bay Packers want.

"(One) thing that I'll tell you, and I'm pretty positive that this is what they're trying to do, is they're trying to hide him so they can slip him through him to the practice squad," an AFC scout who attended Thursday's Packers-Browns game told Packer Report on Monday. "Teams do that all the time."

That, apparently, puts general manager Ted Thompson in the minority.

When Packer Report generically asked Thompson if he's ever instructed coaches to give an under-the-radar prospect limited reps in the preseason so the rest of the league doesn't have any film, Thompson said: "No, we've never done that because you wouldn't be able to evaluate that player against somebody else,. Sometimes it just works out that way. You get caught up in a preseason game. You're planning on somebody doing something in the fourth quarter and you don't get to play defense in the fourth quarter or something like that."

How it's "worked out" is Coleman has played just two series in the preseason, getting on the field with 1:56 remaining against San Diego and 59 seconds last week against Cleveland. Combined, he's taken nine snaps in 1:53.

Coleman has been erratic throughout training camp, with Thursday's two-minute drill being his one shining moment. He has all the tools to be a starter, including a legit arm, athleticism, confidence and a willingness to put in the time mentally and physically. His accuracy, however, has been a major issue, just like it was at Tennessee-Chattanooga, where he completed 57.4 percent of his passes in 29 starts against second-tier competition.

"He is definitely improving and it's something you'd like to see in all your guys," coach Mike McCarthy said. "As you evolve in quarterback play and are able to covert in two-minute drills, it's a big shot in the arm hopefully we can carry over into Thursday."

After capping his two-minute drive with a touchdown pass to Jarrett Boykin, Coleman emphatically pumped his fist, as if he knew it might be a breakout moment. In the locker room, the always-enthusiastic Coleman was more enthusiastic than normal.

"I'm starting to get a good feeling, especially now that we're game-planning for a specific team," Coleman said. "You know the looks you're going to see when you get out there, so that's huge. The biggest thing is I'm starting to feel more comfortable back there in the pocket, understanding my center and what he's thinking, and being able to push the football down the field a little bit better."

Complimented in the locker room for his eye-opening performance, Coleman said "thank you, I appreciate that," then added: "Sometimes, you can feel really good out there on the field then you get back in the film room and there's some things you've got to be able to clean up a little bit better. It's a process."

About four weeks into training camp, are there less things to clean up?

"Yeah, but there's always another obstacle, something new," he said. "We're trying to build it from the ground up."

Coleman said he wasn't sure how much playing time he would get on Thursday at Cincinnati. It probably won't be much. Aaron Rodgers will play the first half and Graham Harrell needs all the work he can get after struggling through the first two preseason games.

And, perhaps, the Packers are trying to keep a promising quarterback off the field and out of the film rooms of the other 31 teams.

"He can throw the rock around," the scout said. "B.J.'s a guy that he's going to take every step to learn the system. As bad as Graham Harrell played with three interceptions and all of that and they still kept him in there — here's the thing: If B.J. goes out there and completes balls up the seam and moves the offense down the field, there's teams out there that have scouts that are doing their homework that work for teams that liked him in college. If he's out there making plays with the 2's and 3's, they'll say, ‘This kid has something to him. We didn't take him in the sixth round but this kid's a hell of a player, so let's steal this kid for our 53-man roster.' I think they're trying to hide him. He's not leaving. He's going to be a Packer for a while."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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