Clock Ticking as Young Learns on Fly

After two ho-hum games and a series of unimpressive practices, Vince Young is down to three practices and two games to show he belongs on the Packers' roster. He's trying to break some old habits and learn the playbook — a daunting challenge.

Vince Young's crash course into the Green Bay Packers' offense is quickly nearing its final exam.

For the Packers, there are two preseason games and three practices remaining before the full focus turns to the Week 1 rematch at rival San Francisco.

Thus, time is running out for Young to beat out Graham Harrell to be the Packers' second quarterback or to play well enough to force the Packers into keeping three quarterbacks on the roster for the first time since 2008.

"As long as he has snaps, he has a chance," quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo said this week. "We'll learn more on Friday night. We're going to let it play out on the field. We're not going to make that decision; the tape's going to make that decision."

Young has played 26 snaps in the first two weeks of the preseason, fewest among the four quarterbacks. (Harrell leads with 54, followed by Aaron Rodgers with 36 and B.J. Coleman with 31, according to ProFootballFocus.com.)

He's completed 6-of-12 passes for 33 yards, with a long completion of 9 yards, and taken two sacks. Plus, he's rushed three times for 19 yards. He's picked up four first downs in five series but not put any points on the board. Those preseason numbers echo his performance on the practice field, where his accuracy has been erratic and he's thrown at least one interception just about every day.

However, Young's mobility, even at age 30, remains his No. 1 asset. And it's that mobility that makes him a better fit in Green Bay than most analysts believe. Nothing, as Rodgers has shown, stresses a defense more than a quarterback that can buy time and make something happen after a play breaks down.

"Whatever the play is called, just try to go through your progression and make the play and make it happen," Young said. "That's what we do as quarterbacks. Just go through our reads. If it's not there … I've seen Aaron stretch the play out and make plays with his arm around the field. And Graham, as well: You saw it this past week in St. Louis, he extended a play, as well as B.J., a good touchdown pass extending the play. It's going through your reads. It's never you're looking to run the ball. The offensive line and the pocket collapse, that's when you try to extend the play. I feel like Coach Tom (Clements) and Benny (McAdoo) does a great job of some of our reps of extending the play and keeping the ball alive and making a play downfield."

The challenge facing Young has been well-documented. After sitting out all of 2012 after failing to make Buffalo's roster, Young was added to the Packers' roster on the 10th day of training camp. By that point, not only had Young missed the offseason workouts and installation of the playbook, but he walked onto the practice field after the playbook had been installed again.

"I'm getting there, one day at a time still," Young said. "I know it's a lot with this offense. I'm trying to get old habits out of my head with the progressions that I need for this offense as well as with your feet and getting the ball out quicker and things like that."

Clearly, it would have been in Young's best interests to have been signed in late July — let alone for the start of organized team activities in May. Young, however, is taking it in stride.

"Anybody would wish. I'm pretty much used to it," Young said. "I had the lockout year going into Philly that year (2011) and didn't have an offseason. These type of things happen, so you have to be a professional and learn to go in and put in some extra work so that you can catch up with the guys. The biggest thing is to ask questions and ask for help. I really feel like Aaron, Benny and Graham and B.J. have been doing a great job of keeping me in there, as well as the offensive line. Just staying in these guys' ear and asking questions, I feel like they've been helping me out a whole lot."

Without putting a number on it, Young said he knows "a pretty good percentage" of the offense, and has leaned on his one year of experience with another West Coast Offense coach, Andy Reid, to find some common threads.

The more he knows, the better after a steady diet of handoffs and bootlegs the first two games. Time is running out and he figures to get a long look after playing 14 snaps against the Rams.

"Vince has been putting in a lot of extra time with Ben McAdoo and you can just see he's getting more and more comfortable each week," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's a lot more comfortable with the game plan today than he was two days ago. I look for Vince to get some opportunities, hopefully maybe play a little more than he has the first two games and show what he can do."


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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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