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NFLE Helps Nall Progress


For another week at least, figuring out Craig Nall's rank among quarterbacks is as easy as reading the No. 1 emblazoned on his jersey.

Not only is he the starter for the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe, but with one regular season game remaining, Nall is tops in the league in passing yards (1,903), touchdowns (16) and quarterback rating (96.0).

Determining his place among Packers quarterbacks isn't quite so simple, however. And even after a stint in the NFL's developmental league, Nall knows that the hard road begins in late July, when he'll have to earn his spot at training camp.

"I'll still be the No. 3 guy hopefully, and have a chance to compete with Doug (Pederson) for that backup spot, which is going to be tough," Nall said in a conference call with Wisconsin media this week.

"I'm not going to sit here and lie and say that I should be the No. 2 guy, because Doug has been there and he's proven himself. I just have to continue to improve on the things that I've done over here (in Europe) and just carry on the same way when I get back to camp."

After a decade in the league, Pederson's experience far exceeds that of Nall, who was a fifth-round selection out of Northwestern (La.) State in 2002 before spending his rookie season among the Packers' inactives as the No. 3 quarterback.

Former Nebraska option star Eric Crouch and Northwestern alumnus Zak Kustok are also battling for roster spots this summer, but thanks to his participation in Europe, Nall has gained some much-needed momentum.

"He seems like he's improved week in and week out," GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said. "His decision making, I think, has been very good throughout the entire time over there, so that's been impressive."

Plus, Sherman noted, Nall is helping the Claymores win.

After a 2-4 start, Scotland enters the final weekend of the regular season in World Bowl contention after rattling off three consecutive victories. In that span, Nall has been near perfect, completing 46-of-68 passes (67.7 percent) for 632 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions.

"The last couple weeks he's really come on," offensive coordinator Tom Rossley said. "He's showing what we hoped he would show over there, and that's the ability to lead the team and make good decisions."

What's significant isn't just that Nall is flourishing, but that he's doing so inside a West Coast attack that's similar to the Packers' offense. At its helm, Nall has shown the ability to spread the ball around the field, with seven Claymores making at least a dozen receptions so far.

And if the NFLE setting might dull some of the luster of success, Nall is certain that the defenses he's faced have been respectable enough to allow him to grow.

"The coverages are probably a little more basic," Nall said, "but as far as the talent-level, there are guys over here that can play, definitely."

Confident in what they can get out of Pederson, Rossley said he was "anxious to get Craig back here and see how much he's progressed."

After two months overseas, Nall is eager to return to American soil as well, but for a 24-year-old looking for his place in the NFL, it's been a worthwhile adventure.

In addition to his experience on the field, Nall has been able to enjoy some of the sites of Scotland, including a round of golf at the historic Old Course at St. Andrews, which seemed to give him more trouble than opposing defenses.

"I shot under 100, which is all I'm going to say about that," Nall said.

"I was just looking forward to coming over here and getting some playing time, which obviously that's happened. Everything else is just a bonus."

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