published Thursday, August 16th, 2012

B.J. Coleman, Buster Skrine ready to face off

Green Bay Packers quarterback B.J. Coleman (9) passes during a Packers NFL football intrasquad scrimmage.
Green Bay Packers quarterback B.J. Coleman (9) passes during a Packers NFL football intrasquad scrimmage.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A month ago, B.J. Coleman was effusive about his record in throwing passes against cornerback Buster Skrine. In two-plus years as University of Tennessee at Chattanooga teammates, and dozens and dozens of practices, Skrine never once intercepted a Coleman pass.

That seems like the kind of thing one player might tease another about in the days leading up to meeting in an NFL preseason game, but not right now -- not tonight.

"I don't even want to go there," Coleman said Wednesday, hinting that he didn't want to jinx himself.

The Green Bay Packers rookie and third-string quarterback makes his Lambeau Field debut tonight against the Cleveland Browns and Skrine, a second-year corner. It was Skrine who first admitted, in an interview in early July, that he'd yet to pick off a Coleman pass.

"I don't know why, but I never got one," said Skrine, who made two tackles in the Browns' first preseason game.

Coleman had to wait a long time to make his first appearance in a preseason game. Last Thursday in San Diego, he didn't take the field until there was 1:49 left on the clock. With the Packers down 21-13, he got to come in and do what he loves, run a two-minute drill.

Coleman completed his first pass, for 6 yards, and finished 4-of-8 for 36 yards. His highlight was a 12-yard completion on fourth-and-10.

"I felt good out there, and it was awesome to have the opportunity to go out there against San Diego, on national television," he said. "It was a special, special moment. To have [Packers coach Mike McCarthy] look at me and say, 'All right man, you're in.' It was exciting."

Coleman said it was a strange feeling this week watching tape of the Browns and seeing Skrine on the screen. In two weeks, assuming they're still on their respective rosters, Coleman will see another former UTC defensive back, Chris Lewis-Harris, when the Packers visit the Cincinnati Bengals.

Lewis-Harris, who signed as an undrafted free agent, had three tackles in the Bengals' game against the New York Jets last Friday, including an assisted tackle of quarterback Tim Tebow.

Chattanooga native Tim Benford made his debut with the Dallas Cowboys on Monday against the Oakland Raiders, and the former Red Bank High School and Tennessee Tech star receiver had a 9-yard reception. A free-agent signee, Benford said he knows making catches and special-teams plays are the keys to him making the roster.

"I don't feel any pressure," he said. "I'm just out here to play and win a job, get on this team. I don't bring any pressure on myself. I just keep working and we'll just see what happens."

Another local product, former Howard and Tennessee State linebacker Rico Council, had three tackles in his debut last week with the Atlanta Falcons, who host the Bengals tonight.

Defensive back and returner Jeremy Caldwell, who signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Rams out of Eastern Kentucky, did not return to the team for training camp and, according to published reports,has decided to give up football. Caldwell, who played with Benford at Red Bank, could not be reached for comment.

Rosters must be cut to 75 players by Aug. 27 and trimmed to the league-limit 53 players by Aug. 31. After the final cuts, teams can sign up to eight players to their practice squads.

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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