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Packers activate QB Harrell -- but what does it mean?

Nothing flowing out of Green Bay suggests the Packers plan to rip a page out of the Colts' 2009 playbook and rest their starters -- at the cost of losing a game or two -- to gas up for a playoff push.

But one quiet transaction raises questions about how the defending Super Bowl champions might handle their quarterbacks down the stretch.

Graham Harrell, who has been with the Packers since May 2010, was activated off the practice squad Wednesday after tight end Andrew Quarless was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a knee injury.

Now, Green Bay did the same with Harrell last year, when Aaron Rodgers was injured and Matt Flynn was pushed into service. Harrell was active for the final three games and through the playoffs, so coach Mike McCarthy has shown trust in the young man before.

But could it mean more? A few hypotheses are floating around the newsroom:

Theory A: The team will find a way to rest Rodgers in spots, and Harrell's aboard to back up Matt Flynn. One problem here: This theory took a hit when McCarthy told reporters Wednesday: "I'm not thinking about resting Aaron."

Theory B (and this is a bit juicier): The Packers are preparing for Flynn's departure via free agency (remember, he's considered this offseason's Kevin Kolb -- mysterious, tons of potential, possibly wildly overrated), and Harrell's activation signaled a cunning move to prevent an opponent from snatching away the former Texas Tech star.

Theory C: McCarthy's following a similar road he tread last season.

Whatever the thought process on this one, there's very little room to question a coaching staff and front office that's systematically run roughshod over opponents all season.

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