Camp Clashes: Quarterbacks

With Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have a quarterback who has mastered the tightrope of making plays down the field but not making costly mistakes. The only intrigue is at backup, where it's the savvy Graham Harrell battling talented B.J. Coleman.

With the Green Bay Packers opening training camp on Friday, Packer Report takes a closer look at the quarterbacks.

The star

Aaron Rodgers: What can be said about Rodgers that hasn't been said already? The resume speaks for itself: 2010 Super Bowl MVP, 2011 NFL MVP; the NFL's career leader in passer rating and points per start; the game's best in the red zone and on third down.

Rodgers has an uncanny ability to make big plays but avoid big turnovers. He has the lowest interception rate in NFL history at 1.7 percent, far ahead of Tom Brady's second-ranked 2.1 percent. And yet, Rodgers makes plays down the field. Since taking over as the starter in 2008, he is second in 25-yard completions with 183. His 8.1 yards per attempt leads all active players and is fourth all-time.

With a league-record 28.06 points per start, Rodgers has fashioned a 52-26 record as the starting quarterback. Clearly, he hasn't done all of that alone. He's been blessed with an exceptional receiver corps. Now, for the first time in his career, Rodgers is going to have to succeed without a fourth and fifth receiver who might have had a starring role elsewhere. In a sense, it's going to be up to Rodgers to force-feed that inexperienced group of receivers to grow that depth.

The big battle

Graham Harrell vs. B.J. Coleman: As the son of a legendary Texas high school coach and after setting league records at Texas Tech and watching Rodgers for three years, Harrell knows what he's doing. He's worked tirelessly the past couple offseasons to improve his arm strength and ability to make plays on the move. Coleman has the arm strength and athleticism of a starting quarterback.

So, who will be Rodgers' backup? Will it be Harrell, who is squeezing out every ounce of ability and has earned the coaches' trust? Or will it be Coleman, who has the higher ceiling?

"Graham Harrell has improved every single year," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think he's definitely made another step this offseason. He's much stronger, he's more conditioned, he's done some things in fine-motor skill development I think you've seen showing up in the way he throws and releases the football. I feel good about his improvement. He has knowledge of the system. He needs to perform in the preseason at a high level, that's what you look for. He finished it the right way against Kansas City last year but he has to have a good preseason. B.J.'s got a ton of talent. He needs to play. We've got to get the game to slow down for him, that's normal for a young quarterback where he is in his development. I feel good about those guys battling it out."

The long shot

Matt Brown: The undrafted rookie rewrote the Illinois State record book while leading the program to unprecedented success. However, he just doesn't throw a very good ball. At one point during the final OTA practice, one of the Packers' backs dropped Brown's pass and jogged off the field complaining about Brown's inability to throw a spiral. Will that improve as Brown becomes more comfortable with the system and the reads?

The bottom line

Rodgers gives the Packers a chance to not only win every week, but win a championship every season. The same, obviously, isn't even close to true with Harrell and Coleman. But the Packers will have to sink or swim with them because there are no quality veteran options on the unemployment line. Coleman's upside is obvious and he's worked hard on his fundamentals. Now, as position coach Ben McAdoo put it, it's up to Coleman to take those fundamentals to the 11-on-11 periods and practice and the preseason games.

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

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