QB situation in flux

The Packers' quarterback situation entering Monday night's preseason game against Seattle may not have been etched in stone, but the engraver was working furiously.

It may be time to grab a new slab of stone in the wake of Tim Couch's horrendous preseason debut.

ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth said watching Couch was so painful he had to turn off the television. While Couch wouldn't make any excuses afterward, some were readily obvious.

First, Couch is in his infancy in learning the West Coast offense. Future Hall of Famer Brett Favre has said he wasn't totally at ease in the offense even in his third season. Couch hasn't even worked in the offense for a month.

"I'm still out there just thinking way too much," Couch said after the game. "I'm not at a level where it's comfortable where you're out there just making reads and getting into a rhythm."

Second, Couch had no time in the pocket on far too many occasions. With starters Mike Wahle and Mike Flanagan out, the Packers are lacking depth up front. That meant Couch was playing behind a few linemen who won't make the final roster.

"The second and third groups were horrendous," the usually upbeat offensive line coach Larry Beightol admitted.

And third, Couch was given much of last week off with a sore and tired arm, and while he said he was good to go for the scrimmage, it appeared his arm wasn't as fresh as he led the coaching staff to believe. On one of the rare occasions he had time and an open receiver, Couch one-hopped a hitch pattern to the sideline.

"I question whether or not that was a good decision this time," Packers coach Mike Sherman said after the game. "But he said his arm felt fine and that he wanted to play, so I put him out there."

Couch's dismal performance leaves the former No. 1 pick in quite a pickle.

By going 2-of-11 for 18 yards, Couch showed he's nowhere near ready to step in for Favre in an emergency.

If his arm is still dead, Couch will need more time off. More time off, however, means Couch will miss opportunities to acclimate himself to the offense.

With Couch not ready mentally and not healthy physically, the Packers' quarterbacking situation could change dramatically from what was expected. Before camp, it was assumed Couch would be the No. 2 quarterback and Doug Pederson and Craig Nall would duke it out to be the third quarterback. With Pederson a confidant for Favre and a proven holder in the kicking game, and with Nall unable to practice with a hamstring injury, it appeared a foregone conclusion Pederson would stay and Nall would go.

In light of Couch's performance and health on Monday, however, he's no longer a shoe-in to be Favre's top backup, or make the final roster. Pederson's roster security certainly has improved after what transpired with Couch on Monday. And if Couch doesn't make the roster, Nall would be back for a third season.

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