It was a far cry from “The Belt,” and Tuesday’s practice wasn’t even in pads, but when quarterback B.J. Coleman thrust his fist into the air upon completing a touchdown pass on the final play of the two-minute drill, he knew he had done something worth celebrating.
Working against a group of rotating first- and second-string defenders, Coleman directed a reserve offensive unit 60 yards in 56 seconds for a score, signifying the biggest step yet in training camp for the steadily improving rookie seventh-round draft pick.
“To see it unfold is kind of cool,” Coleman said of experiencing success with the young rookie receivers he’s spent so much time with and who, like him, have been at the bottom of the depth chart all camp. Undrafted rookie Jarrett Boykin caught the TD as well as the two passes preceding it.
“To be able to put it together when it counts like that, that’s a huge step.”
Coleman completed six of eight passes on the drive, with the only two incompletions being spikes to stop the clock. After the second spike, Coleman had 20 yards to go in only nine seconds.
He calmly hit Boykin for 12 yards along the right sideline, stopping the clock with four seconds left. Then he found Boykin again, rolling left to buy time and firing a low strike toward the back corner that Boykin dived to catch, with safety Morgan Burnett a half-step behind.
“I thought he did a good job taking what the defense gave him and then made the play on the last play with 4 seconds left,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “It was well done.
“As you evolve in quarterback play, to be able to convert in the two-minute drill is definitely a big shot in the arm. Hopefully, we can carry it over to Thursday.”
McCarthy said the playing time for Thursday’s preseason game in Cincinnati has already been determined, divulging only that it would be similar to what the team has done in the past. The Packers’ recent pattern in the third preseason game has been to play the starters the first half, the No. 2 quarterback in the third quarter, and then the No. 3 QB in the fourth.
That’s not a lot of playing time, but it’s more than Coleman has gotten in the first two preseason games. He had only the final two-minute drive in San Diego, which ended on a fumble after a completed screen pass. Then he got just one snap at the end of the Cleveland game, when he threw an interception.
Coleman admitted he tried to do too much with that brief opportunity, forcing a throw to the sideline that was picked. This time, instead of trying to make the big play, he’s going to adhere to his daily “brick-by-brick” approach to learning the offense and honing his fundamentals.
“You go out there and try to get better at something, and you put that in your toolbox, and you take it out the next day and apply it to something else,” he said. “You keep building. It’s like building a house.”
Coleman added to his impressive day in scout-team work, threading a couple of tight throws down the middle to tight end Ryan Taylor and receiver Randall Cobb. He also showed nice touch on a lob to the end zone hauled in by Diondre Borel. Later on, however, he threw a jump ball intended for Donald Driver that cornerback Sam Shields intercepted, and a post route to Cobb was almost picked off by safety Anthony Levine.
As Coleman likes to say, “There’s always something to clean up.”
“I think I’ve definitely taken a step to the good, but every day there are going to be challenges,” he said.
Another ongoing challenge for the Packers is sorting out who’s best for which role in the secondary. Cornerback Casey Hayward and safety Jerron McMillian had solid games last week against Cleveland, but this week cornerbacks Jarrett Bush and Shields (who returned from injury), along with Levine, were getting more first-team reps in the base and sub packages.
No matter how it sorts out, it seems no one can complain that the competition hasn’t been fair.
“The corner and safety positions have not been set yet,” McCarthy said. “These guys need to play. They need to play Thursday night and, hopefully, they’ll all play well.”
McCarthy already declared nine players, in addition to the four who remain on PUP, out for Thursday’s game. Running backs Du’ane Bennett, Brandon Saine and James Starks, linebacker Desmond Bishop, tackle Andrew Datko, guard Ray Dominguez, fullback Jon Hoese, cornerback Davon House and receiver Shaky Smithson will not play against the Bengals.
Tight ends D.J. Williams (ankle) and DeMarco Cosby (hamstring) were added to the injury list, and their status for the game is uncertain. Related links