'Fire Burning' as Coleman Rebounds

For the first couple weeks of training camp, B.J. Coleman's erratic play helped necessitate the signing of Vince Young. Coleman has turned things around of late, including an impressive practice on Monday. He knows he must do the same on Thursday at Kansas City.

If B.J. Coleman would have played like this from Day 1 of training camp, perhaps the Green Bay Packers would have seen no need to bring in Vince Young.

During a blitz period at Monday's practice, Coleman used his touch on a corner route to Tyrone Walker, floating the ball perfectly over Brandon Smith. On the next play, he threw a perfectly timed fastball to Jordy Nelson, who caught the ball at the sideline.

Later, during an 11-on-11 red-zone drill, Coleman's pump fake coaxed Sam Shields to bite, and Coleman connected with Jarrett Boykin for an easy touchdown. Later, he used his touch on a corner route to Myles White, lofting the ball over another defender for the touchdown.

"It's nice to see the fire burning under him a little bit," quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo said after practice.

Coleman, a talented, enthusiastic and impeccably polite seventh-round pick in 2012, failed to make the second-year jump that coach Mike McCarthy discusses so often. When neither Coleman nor Graham Harrell seized control of the backup job, the Packers brought in Young.

Rather than rise to the occasion, Coleman's play slid backward. He locked onto receivers, threw the ball inaccurately and threw a bunch of interceptions.

However, Coleman has righted the ship, starting with his touchdown drive at St. Louis on Aug. 23. While he completed just 2-of-7 passes in two series against Seattle, he's put together a pair of strong practices this week.

"Daily, I really believe that I've continued to grow and get better," Coleman said. "I've still made mistakes. The other night, there were still mistakes made, but you've got to overcome them and grow as you continue through the film study process. This will be a big week, from putting everything together for that last preseason game and trying to establish a rhythm, establish a pace, and really make a statement offensively of being able to move the football down the field, move the chains and put the ball in the end zone. That's big for a quarterback."

In three games, Coleman is just 12-of-27 passing (44.4 percent) for 109 yards. His 4.0 yards per attempt is among the worst in the league. Against St. Louis, however, he completed 8-of-13 passes for 86 yards. His touchdown pass to Jake Stoneburner came when he extended the play, went through his progressions and threw accurately on the run — all of which are focal points for McAdoo, coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Tom Clements when they coach their quarterbacks.

"B.J.'s stepped it up," McAdoo said. "He's competing. He enjoys competing. He's asking questions, he's really understanding what's going on protection-wide up front. The more he can tie the whole picture, the whole package, together, the better he's going to be."

Early in camp, Coleman was guilty too often of locking onto his No. 1 read and telegraphing his passes — which was akin to blood in the water for the sharks roaming the Packers' secondary. A high percentage of Coleman's interceptions came while running the scout team, with the ball meant to go to a specific receiver rather than whoever's open. But Coleman made enough mistakes running his playbook that he quickly fell out of the running for the No. 2 job.

"Obviously, we don't want interceptions, even on the look team," McAdoo said, "but I think he's doing a nice job of working through his progressions now and going through the reads and not staring down one receiver but taking his eyes late to one receiver and then working his way through the progressions."

That Coleman failed in his opportunity to become the No. 2 quarterback this season does nothing to change the team's belief in his long-term potential. Before he was drafted in 2012, a scout told Packer Report that Coleman had the potential to bring a team like the Packers two first-round picks in a trade. That seems far-fetched now, but his upside is undeniable.

"We've liked him all along," McAdoo said. "He's one of our guys. We brought him, we believed in him and we still do."

Asked whether this was the biggest week of his quarterbacking life, Coleman didn't deny what was at stake.

"Tomorrow's a big day, and the next day's a bigger day," he said. "It's important for me to continue to get better every day and be able to put myself in a position where I can establish some tempo and run the offense to their liking. I think that's very important. As a quarterback, the coaches have to have the full trust in you that you can move the football down the field when need be. That's the most important thing."


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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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