QB situation remains murky

One step forward and two steps backward defines the Packers' quarterbacking situation after Friday night's 9-7 preseason loss at Jacksonville.

The step forward was taken by veteran backup Doug Pederson, who cast in stone his status as the team's top backup quarterback. The steps backward were taken by Tim Couch, who didn't even play, and Craig Nall, who made his preseason debut but is still looking for his first preseason completion.

Pederson, who has been the forgotten man in the quarterback rotation because Packers coach Mike Sherman knows what he has in the 12-year veteran, completed 6-of-10 passes for 57 yards.

Pederson entered the game with the first possession of the second half and had the benefit of working behind the No. 1 offensive line for that first series. After an incompletion set up a third-and-12, Pederson hit Antonio Chatman, who made a great cutback move and picked up 25 yards. The big play, however, was overturned when center Grey Ruegamer was called for holding, one of seven such flags thrown on the Packers on Friday.

That drive stalled, but Pederson impressively led the Packers on his next opportunity, this time working behind the No. 2 offensive line. After wide receiver Scottie Vines dropped a pass, Pederson hit Vines for 12 yards and tight end Steve Bush for 14 yards. A 19-yard hookup with Bush was deleted when wide receiver Sam Breeden turned up field too soon for an illegal-motion penalty.

On second-and-15, Pederson was intercepted but was bailed out on a roughing-the-passer penalty. A few plays later, on fourth-and-3, Pederson hit Vines on a slant pattern for 12 yards to the Jaguars' 28-yard line. The impressive drive stalled, however, with holding penalties on Ruegamer and Kevin Barry.

"I thought Doug did a great job going in there in the situation he was in," Packers coach Mike Sherman said. "He was in there actually for a 17-play drive because of the penalties that were called against us. He did a nice job with some key third-down throws and keeping the drive alive. We should have scored a touchdown or at least a field goal with that drive."

That was it for Pederson, and that was it for the Packers' offense for the rest of the game. Nall was under center for three possessions and finished 0-for-5. In his defense, Nall had missed two-and-a-half weeks of practice after straining a hamstring on the first day of training camp, and this was his first preseason action.

While the Packers had horrendous field position for much of the game, Nall's first crack came from the Jacksonville 42 but he was unable to get so much as a first down. He overthrew wide receiver Carl Ford on his first pass, and on third-and-long, Nall scrambled for 7 yards even though running back Walter Williams was wide open in the flat.

Nall's second chance was foiled by yet another holding penalty, this one on rookie center Scott Wells. On second-and-long, Nall's screen pass was batted right back at him. Nall caught the ball in his own end zone and wound up throwing it away for an illegal forward pass since it's illegal to throw the ball twice on one play. The play was doomed, anyway, since Wells ran to the right even though the play was supposed to go left.

Nall continued to get no help with his last drive of the night. A well-executed play fake off a fake reverse led to Ford getting one-on-one coverage on a deep post pattern. Nall slightly underthrew the ball, and the ball slipped through Ford's hands. On third-and-10, a tightly covered Ford again couldn't make the play.

In mop-up duty, undrafted rookie Scott McBrien provided some energy but few results, going 3-of-5 for 23 yards, was sacked once and threw an interception to end the Packers' remote chance of driving to a winning field goal in the final seconds.

As for Couch, the beleaguered quarterback was held out due to a sore biceps in his right (throwing) arm. Not that he used it, but Couch — 8-of-28 in the first two preseason games — had an excuse of working behind the second-string offensive line. Pederson, however, was able to move the offense with those same second-stringers.


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