Mike Trgovac wasn’t talking about Vince Young at the time, but the line of thinking is certainly applicable.
The Green Bay Packers straight-shooting defensive line coach was sizing up the competition for a spot on the roster, and the limited opportunities his guys – especially the ones missing time with injuries or toward the tail end of the depth chart.
“The guys fighting for a job right now, they know with the format of today’s training camp that they can’t waste a rep. And when they do, they’re upset with themselves because you know you have one-a-day practices now,” Trgovac explained last week. “It’s a lot different than it used to be, where you might have 30 more practices (than we have now). It’s not the case anymore. Each rep is vitally important.”
That will be Young’s reality when he steps under center at Tuesday’s practice – for however many snaps he gets – after an NFL source confirmed Monday that the No. 3 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft had signed a one-year deal with the Packers.
After canceling Monday’s practice for a team-building exercise, the Packers have only 12 practices left on the schedule, including nine in pads. They also have one practice on Monday, Aug. 12 that is listed as “no public practice” on the team’s schedule. Young would have three practices to prepare for Friday night’s preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field, which is an awfully quick turnaround for a quarterback to get ready to play for his new team. It would seem more likely that Young, with practices on Aug. 12, 13, 14 and 15, would more likely be ready for the team’s Aug. 17 game at St. Louis.
Last summer in Buffalo, Young completed just 25 of 52 passes (48.1 percent) for 276 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 48.2 – and he’d been with the Bills since signing with them in May 2012. The Bills then released him at the end of training camp after acquiring Tarvaris Jackson from the Seattle Seahawks, and Young ended up spending the rest of the year out of football.
There he remained until Monday, when he worked out for the Packers and did enough to earn a shot at the No. 2 job behind starter Aaron Rodgers. Thusfar in camp, Graham Harrell, Rodgers’ backup last season, and B.J. Coleman, the third-stringer who spent last year on the practice squad, have split snaps evenly in practice.
In the annual Family Night Scrimmage on Saturday night, however, Harrell won a unanimous decision over Coleman, who threw a pair of interceptions – one in the end zone and another that was returned 66 yards for a touchdown by James Nixon. Harrell had also outperformed Coleman in the previous two practices but hasn’t exactly impressed after last preseason, when he was horrendous in the first three preseason games before saving his job with a perfect 158.3 passer rating in the preseason finale.
A league source said that while Young hasn’t been guaranteed anything, the Packers will give him a legitimate shot to win the No. 2 job behind Rodgers. Young is not being brought in simply to help the Packers defense prepare for the zone-read plays run by the San Francisco 49ers, the team’s opponent in the season-opener, and others.
Instead, in the 6-foot-5, 232-pound Young, the Packers get a big, strong, athletic player who should be motivated to resuscitate his career. Young presumably got a minimum-salary deal, making it a low-risk, low-cost signing. He’s also trying to climb out of a deep financial hole that has seen him squander the $26 million he earned in his first contract with the Titans.
More importantly for the Packers, while Young only saw limited action in Philadelphia in 2011 (six games, three starts), he has won in the NFL – something Harrell, who’d never taken a regular-season snap before tripping and fumbling on a goal-line handoff to Cedric Benson against New Orleans last year, hasn’t.
In 50 career starts, he is 31-19 as a starter and has completed 755 of 1,304 passes (57.9 percent) for 8,964 yards with 46 touchdowns and 51 interceptions (74.4 passer rating). He also has 282 career carries for 1,459 yards (5.2-yard average) and 12 touchdowns.
In March, Young worked out at the University of Texas pro day in advance of the NFL Draft, hoping to catch a team’s eye. "He's better than a whole lot of people that are playing out there," Longhorns coach Mack Brown told reporters afterward. "With mobile quarterbacks and what they're doing in the NFL, running some option and zone read … Someone will get lucky. Someone will win the lottery with this workout."
Listen to Jason Wilde every weekday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Green & Gold Today” on 540 ESPN, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasonjwilde.