Former UTC quarterback B.J. Coleman has shot at Packers' backup job

Former UTC quarterback B.J. Coleman has shot at Packers' backup job

June 28th, 2013 by John Frierson in Sports - Professional

Green Bay Packers quarterback B.J. Coleman, right, has shown significant improvement in his second season, and could challenge Graham Harrell (left) for the No. 2 job backing up Aaron Rodgers, center.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

If last spring, summer and fall were the professional football version of graduate school for quarterback B.J. Coleman, the former McCallie and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga star now is out looking for a job.

The Green Bay Packers' backup quarterback job, to be specific.

"I think training camp's going to be a lot of fun this year," the 6-foot-3, 228-pounder said following a round of golf Monday at Bear Trace at Harrison Bay.

In three seasons at UTC, Coleman threw a record 52 touchdown passes, and his 6,871 passing yards are second all-time with the Mocs. In 2012, the Packers drafted Coleman in the seventh round.

Coleman arrived in Green Bay last spring wide-eyed, raw by NFL standards and eager to learn. From organized team activities last spring to minicamps to training camp to last season, all the way to OTAs and minicamp this spring, Coleman got a crash course in NFL quarterbacking, both on and off the field.

"[Graduate school is] a great way to put it -- yes. We're still in school. It's kind of one of those deals where you're always learning," he said. "Last year was a hit-the-ground-running kind of thing. One of the things why Green Bay has a lot of success with their quarterbacks is they bring them right in and put them right in the fire. Let them mess up, make mistakes and it's kind of a sink-or-swim kind of deal."

Coleman was on the practice squad last season, though technically he was the team's third quarterback behind 2011 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and backup Graham Harrell. Coleman worked, he listened, he learned -- and he improved.

Always blessed with a strong arm and the desire to lead, Coleman said the past year had its share of revelations.

"Several times I've kind of surprised myself: Wow, I do that well," he said. "And several times it was: I thought I did that well, and really I don't."

After some strong performances at OTAs and minicamp this spring, Coleman appears to be a legitimate contender for the No. 2 job. Packers coach Mike McCarthy told reporters at the end of OTAs earlier this month that Coleman "has a ton of talent."

Throughout the spring, Coleman said, he and Harrell split No. 2 repetitions. McCarthy apparently liked what he saw from both quarterbacks, noting the progress Coleman has made.

"I really like the development and improvement in his fundamentals he's made over the last six weeks," McCarthy said. "So that's been fun to watch and be a part of, but it's just like anything. You can't practice two-minute drills enough. You can't practice situational football [enough]. ...That's what he needs. He needs to play."

Now Coleman said he is eager for that chance.

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity to compete and get out there in the preseason and play," he said. "That's something I'm really excited about, being able to go out and show kind of from year one to year two how far I've come and where I am now."

Packers training camp starts July 24. The first preseason game is Aug. 9, against the Arizona Cardinals.

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