B.J. Coleman needed a good performance last Saturday in St. Louis, for himself and his confidence and for his chances of making the Green Bay Packers' 53-man roster.
The former McCallie and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga quarterback delivered against the Rams. Coleman played nearly the entire fourth quarter -- the most he's played in two preseasons with the Packers -- and finished 8-for-13 for 86 yards, with a 9-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Jake Stoneburner.
"I think it was important," Coleman said Monday night. "I think any time you go out there, you've got to take advantage of it in some way. I try to control what I can control, and to be able to go out there and lead a group on a drive like that and then put the ball in the end zone, that was pretty awesome."
And in that end zone was a very familiar face, former McCallie and Mocs teammate and longtime friend Thomas Green. Green works for AstroTurf, which installed the surface at the Edward Jones Dome.
"He was in the corner where I threw the touchdown," Coleman said. "That was pretty special."
On the touchdown throw, Coleman's first in a preseason game, he made what Packers coach Mike McCarthy later described as "a hell of a play." Under pressure Coleman rolled to his right and zipped a pass toward the front-right pylon, where Stoneburner was able to come forward and get it.
Coleman said he doesn't know what his future is -- a strong finish to the preseason might put him ahead of Graham Harrell and recent signee Vince Young for the No. 2 job or he could get cut and signed to the practice squad, where he spent last season, or he could be released.
"All that's for the front office to decide," Coleman said.
The value of his strong performance against the Rams, especially if he backs it up with a good week of practice and another quality showing in Friday's preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, is that it could draw the interest of other teams if the Packers let him go.
If they decide to put him on the practice squad, where he would have time to develop for another year, Coleman would be up for grabs on waivers for 24 hours. That means another team could sign him without the Packers getting a chance to respond.
Former UTC defensive back Chris Lewis-Harris is in a similar spot with the Cincinnati Bengals, as is former Red Bank High School and Tennessee Tech receiver Tim Benford with the Dallas Cowboys.
Benford, who is coming back from knee surgery, had two catches for 29 yards last Saturday against the Arizona Cardinals. Lewis-Harris, who played in two games in 2012, including the Bengals' playoff game, had a tackle and did well in coverage most of the time but also was beat on a double move for a long touchdown by the Tennessee Titans.
Lewis-Harris said last week that he's more comfortable this preseason than he was a year ago, when he'd just arrived with the Bengals.
"The game has definitely slowed down for me and I know the defense a lot better, but I try not to think about last year," he said. "I'm just trying to work and study and get better every day. That's all I can do."
In Cleveland, Ohio, former Mocs cornerback Buster Skrine is trying to earn a starting job in the Browns' secondary in his third NFL season. Joe Haden has one corner spot secured, and Skrine and rookie Chris Owens are fighting for the other.
"I want to start," Skrine told Ohio.com this week. "Even if I didn't start, I still have respect for the coaches' decision. But I do want to start."
The Browns spend a lot of time with five defensive backs on the field, so Skrine will play plenty regardless of whether he's in the starting lineup.
Contact John Frierson at email@example.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him at twitter.com/MocsBeat.
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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