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Rodgers exits after eye poke, Harrell stumbles and fumbles

Graham Harrell, Brian Sanford

Green Bay Packers quarterback Graham Harrell (6) fumbles as he is hit by Cleveland Browns defensive end Brian Sanford in the fourth quarter of a preseason NFL football game on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011, in Cleveland. The Browns defeated the Packers 27-17. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)


Packers fans already had doubts about Graham Harrell as Aaron Rodgers’ backup, and Harrell’s first NFL play did nothing to erase those doubts.

After Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was poked in the eye and had to leave the game, Harrell entered and promptly tripped over one of his own offensive linemen, stumbled, and then fumbled while trying to hand the ball off to Cedric Benson. The Saints recovered Harrell’s fumble, an incredibly costly turnover for the Packers, who had first-and-goal after a facemasking penalty was called when Rodgers was poked in the eye.

The turnover became even more costly when the Saints scored a touchdown on an 80-yard Drew Brees bomb to Joseph Morgan, giving the Saints a 24-21 lead in Green Bay.

The Packers have also lost receiver Greg Jennings for the game with a groin injury, in a game that’s about as close as it gets to must-win in Week Four, for both teams.

UPDATE 6:45 p.m. ET: Rodgers returned to the game after the Saints scored. Harrell’s fumble was the only offensive play Rodgers missed.