As Mike McCarthy repeats often exhibition football can be a rough experience for any backup quarterback. Confusion can reign around the quarterback.

Yet one day after Friday's 17-0 eyesore of a loss to the Arizona Cardinals the Green Bay Packers coach took a slightly sharper tone.

Through six scoreless possessions Graham Harrell turned the ball over twice failed to put any points on the board and finished with a 49.5 passer rating. Three more games of small ball won't be enough.

"Graham has to play better and it's tough" McCarthy said. "Playing quarterback in the preseason it's never clean and it's been like that as long as I've been in this league. You're going to have things go wrong. You're going to have guys run the route too deep and your guy who doesn't get off the press and they run into each other then you have to go on to the next receiver.

"It's those types of things where you have to play through odd looks. Play through situations that someone gets beat and throw the ball away and things like that."

At St. Louis this week and beyond the Packers will need Harrell to rise above any such preseason muck to hand him the No. 2 quarterback job again.

Against the Cardinals he didn't.

Harrell was content settling underneath Arizona's defense in completing 12 of 19 passes for 76 yards with one interception and one fumble. Part of the downfield hesitation McCarthy said Saturday was the play calls. The coach didn't give Harrell the green light to take many opportunities in the secondary.

On the first play of the second half McCarthy did try to go deep. Out of a basic "I" formation — blocking tight end Matt Mulligan to his right — Harrell sold a hard play fake to Alex Green left and set up in a comfortable pocket. Arizona didn't bite. With wide receiver Alex Gillett blanketed by a pair of defenders Harrell patted the ball and dumped it off to fullback Jonathan Amosa in the flat for 2 yards.

Through the transition from his Texas Tech coach Mike Leach to McCarthy this has been one of Harrell's obstacles. He has developed into a serviceable decision-maker who usually takes what's given. But with Harrell under center the offense tends to be more horizontal than vertical.