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Packers-Bengals fallout: Harrell struggles again

Nov. 6, 2013
 
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CINCINNATI — Cleaning out the notebook after the Packers’ 27-13 preseason win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night: * Backup quarterback Graham Harrell hasn’t gotten much done in the preseason, and hasn’t led the second-string offense to a touchdown since the exhibition opener at San Diego. But he hasn’t gotten much help, either. Once again, the second- and third-stringers on the offensive line struggled. Harrell was sacked three times and pressured at least that many more times. His numbers were poor for the second straight outing. This time, he completed just 5-of-12 passes for 26 yards in 1˝ quarters and struggled to make much happen. Under his direction, the offense managed just three points against the Bengals. A week ago, starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers called out the backup offensive line, challenging them to play better in front of Harrell, but it didn’t happen. “It’s tough,” Rodgers said. “A lot of missed assignments. He’s out there fighting. He’s taken some flak, obviously, from you guys (in the media). I know it’s frustrating for him. It’s frustrating for me being his buddy and spending every day with him to see him not get the same kind of opportunities. He’s going to keep plugging away. Next week will be a good week for him. Hopefully those guys will figure it out and give him some time because he’s going to get an opportunity to play a lot. Kansas City, I believe, likes to play their starters a little more than maybe most teams. It’ll be another opportunity and hopefully those guys give him some opportunities to make some plays.” Coach Mike McCarthy said Harrell improved from his previous outing. “We had some protection adjustments that didn’t go right in the protection unit, we had some free runners a couple of times, and he was able to make them miss and step out of a couple of them but had the one sack that he couldn’t,” McCarthy said. “He’s in command of the offense, whether you’re aware of that or not. It’s part of the preseason football. We’re not putting a Band-Aid on it. He’s trying to play above it. I thought he definitely improved. We’ll take a look at the tape, and that’ll tell the true story.” For his part, Harrell wouldn’t take the bait when asked about his shoddy protection and whether he’d rather play with the starters. “I just like to play,” Harrell said. “No matter who’s in, I enjoy it. It’s fun to play with those. We have some great players, and it’s always fun to play with those guys. To get to throw to receivers like Jordy and Greg, that’s fun. I get to do that in practice and whether or not I get to do that in a game or not, that’s part of it. My goal is just to get better and move the ball and score more than we’re doing. So hopefully we can do that.” * Of the four injuries, perhaps tight end Tom Crabtree’s was the worst. He took a hard hit to his right shoulder when safety Taylor Mays drilled him after he hauled in a 22-yard reception. “It was definitely bad enough to where I couldn’t go back in,” Crabtree said. He said he planned to get an MRI on Friday. Mays was given a personal foul penalty on the play, but Crabtree actually thought it was a clean hit. “Yeah, I saw him coming,” Crabtree said. “I knew I was going to get hit. One of those kill-or-be-killed moments. If you’re going to take the hit anyways, you might as well catch the ball. I know they called a penalty on it but from the replay, I’m not ref, but it seemed like a clean hit.” The call might have been because Crabtree was considered a defenseless receiver. “That might have been what it was,” he said. “That’s a hard call to make in a situation like that.” The other injures were to defensive lineman Ryan Pickett (calf), running back Marc Tyler (ribs/wind knocked out) and tight end Ryan Taylor (chest/clavicle). Pickett didn’t return, but Tyler and Crabtree did. * In his first preseason action of the year, receiver Greg Jennings caught two passes for 37 yards but said he could’ve been more productive. He missed the first two games because of the concussion he sustained in the Aug. 3 Family Night scrimmage. “Personally, I felt like I wasn’t where I needed to be or am supposed to be, especially this late in camp, due to the time I missed,” Jennings said. “Missed a few communications on a couple of things where normally it’s pitch and catch, but it will be there, it will be back. But it’s great to feel that and see that happen so I know what I need to work on. This is where you work out all the kinks.”

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