A year ago, the Green Bay Packers didn't trust B.J. Coleman.
Nobody on the coaching staff will come right out and say such a thing, but sometimes actions speak louder than words.
When it came to the 2012 preseason, Coleman saw only fourth quarter mop-up time. Then when the Packers had to trim their regular season roster down to 53 players, Coleman found himself on the practice squad, where he stayed the entire season.
The good news for Coleman heading into 2013, however, is that he's starting to instill some confidence in two of the people whose opinions on NFL quarterbacks hold a lot of weight, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and starter Aaron Rodgers.
"He's very talented, B.J. Coleman," said McCarthy during a Tuesday press conference. "I really see the development and his improvement in his fundamentals he's made over the last six weeks. That's been fun to watch and be a part of."
It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows from McCarthy, however. The Packers coach was quick to point out that behind Rodgers, the most important part of the depth chart at the quarterback position was how much room all of them have to improve.
"B.J.'s got a ton of talent," said McCarthy. "He needs to play. We got to get the game to slow down for him. That's normal for a young quarterback where he is in his development."
If the Packers really and truly will be giving Coleman a legitimate shot to win the top backup job to Rodgers this season, they need to give him more playing time in the preseason than they did a year ago. It's the only opportunity that will provide a reasonable facsimile of the speed and intensity of the regular season.
Coleman completed just seven of 18 passes for 77 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception in exhibition play in 2012. McCarthy couldn't have been more right. There definitely is room for improvement.
But on Tuesday, Coleman may have shown the first signs of making a dent in the positional depth chart and making run at the primary backup job this season. According to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Coleman received an opportunity to run the No. 2 offense in the two-minute drill during today's practice.
Graham Harrell was the clipboard holder as Rodgers' apprentice a year ago, but did little to prove he has the ability to lead the Green Bay offense in Rodgers' absence.
One of the few things observers of the Packers can recall about Harrell as season ago was his goal-line fumble in the New Orleans Saints game that was returned for a touchdown.
In the never-ending quest to find the best contingency plan possible, the Packers look to be giving Coleman an opportunity to elevate himself to the regular-season roster this season, where he'd be just one injury from operating the offense.
As far as Rodgers is concerned, Coleman has made strides since last season, and he's lucky to be part of a coaching staff that is so committed to developing quarterbacks.
"I think B.J. has made some good improvements as well," said Rodgers on Tuesday. "He's blessed with a quarterbacks coach who stays on him, just like I did with Tom (Clements) when I was a young player. I think Ben (McAdoo has) done a good job of really getting those guys ready."
This week marks the last week of Organized Team Activities and the Packers' entire offseason program in general. Next on the agenda is training camp, which begins in late July, and will be the real litmus test for how much Coleman has improved.
"You can't practice too many drills enough, you can't practice the situational football (enough)," said McCarthy. "You can not just get enough reps as a young quarterback in those situations, and that's what he needs. He needs to play."
Brian Carriveau is the author of "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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