Interim coach Dick Jauron designated Jeff Garcia to start at quarterback for Detroit at quarterback Sunday against Minnesota.
There had been speculation that Harrington, or even rookie Dan Orlovsky, would start Sunday against the Vikings instead of the 35-year-old Garcia because team president Matt Millen said Monday when he fired coach Steve Mariucci that he wanted to get more out of younger players.
“I’ve played against Jeff a number of times, and he plays a real tough, hard-nosed game,” Jauron said Wednesday. “He’s got more experience, so that’s really it. It wasn’t anything that I don’t think Joey can do.”
Neither quarterback has played well this season, one reason for Detroit’s 4-7 record.
Garcia has one touchdown pass and two interceptions in three games, and Harrington, the third pick of the 2002 draft, has thrown eight TDs and 11 interceptions in nine starts.
“The decision didn’t come as a surprise to me,” said Garcia, a Pro Bowler with San Francisco. “I think everyone in the locker room knows what the situation is and what it should be.”
Harrington had started the previous four games — with four TDs, three interceptions and one victory — after losing his job to Garcia in October, when the veteran recovered from leg and ankle injuries.
The move back to the bench seems to be further evidence that Harrington’s future will not be in Detroit.
“I feel like I’ve had to fight to prove myself,” he said. “Any time you have a job taken away from you, you have to fight to earn it back. You have to fight to earn back the right to play again and the right to be here.
Meanwhile, cornerback Dre’ Bly apologized to the team for being critical of Harrington, who he had blamed for Mariucci’s firing.
Harrington said Bly didn’t apologize to him directly, but said that didn’t matter. Earlier in the week, Bly said Mariucci wouldn’t have been fired had Garcia been healthy enough to play ahead of Harrington all season.
“I’m not ever going to validate what he said,” Harrington said. “I’m not going to get into a war of words with Dre’.”
Bly had blamed Harrington for the firing of Mariucci, the Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday.
"If we'd had production on offense, in particular the quarterback position, Mooch wouldn't have been fired. If Jeff Garcia hadn't gotten hurt, we wouldn't be in this position today. Mooch wouldn't have gotten fired."
ProFootballTalk: Patriots QB Tom Brady addressed Wes Welker’s decision to head West to Denver. Brady says he isn’t surprised by anything after being in the league for so long and hopes that Welker has a great season with the Broncos.
2013 SNF Schedule
Check out the 2013 Sunday Night Football schedule.
Latest from ProFootballTalk
Video: Football from NBC Sports
Best of ProFootballTalk: May 20th-24th
ProFootballTalk: Check out the bloopers from the week of May 20th.
Check out some of the NFL cheerleaders from across the league.