Packers’ QB depth looks good behind NFL MVP

The Sports Xchange DE PERE, Wis. -- Quarterback Aaron Rodgers played three series longer than he did in the Green Bay Packers first preseason game last season, when he didn't suit up for action. Even with Rodgers' getting the extended playing tim...

Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) runs the ball during the first quarter against the New England Patriots in a preseason NFL football game at Gillette Stadium. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

The Sports Xchange


DE PERE, Wis. - Quarterback Aaron Rodgers played three series longer than he did in the Green Bay Packers first preseason game last season, when he didn’t suit up for action.

Even with Rodgers’ getting the extended playing time at quarterback at the start of exhibition play Thursday night, the Packers still made time to get long looks at their three backups at the position.

Scott Tolzien, rookie Brett Hundley and Matt Blanchard all played after Rodgers handled the first quarter of action in Green Bay’s 22-11 win at the New England Patriots.


After a robust first preseason slate of games with the Packers last summer, Tolzien flourished in four possessions against the Patriots. The fifth-year pro directed the second-team offense to two touchdowns, highlighted by a 26-yard scoring strike to young receiver Jeff Janis late in the second quarter.

“Nice to see Scott being productive, as he should,” said Rodgers, who gave way to Tolzien after completing 11 of 19 passes for 117 yards but with a subpar passer rating of 76.0.

As for Tolzien, he went 10-of-16 passing for 107 yards and the touchdown, exiting the game midway through the third quarter with a sharp efficiency rating of 102.9.

“Aaron is the (reigning NFL) MVP, so it’s hard to match what he does,” Tolzien said. “But, at the same time, I want to learn as much as I can from our coaches, and there’s no better coach than Aaron, too. It’s a great teaching tool. I’m lucky to be in that situation.”

Tolzien has the inside track to starting the season as Rodgers’ top understudy after spending last season as the No. 3 quarterback behind Matt Flynn, who wasn’t re-signed as a free agent.

“I think it’s obvious - he’s a lot more comfortable,” head coach Mike McCarthy said about Tolzien on Saturday. “Just the way he’s practicing, the OTAs (in the spring) and training camp, he’s been very consistent, hasn’t really had too many up-and-down days. I thought he did a nice job against the Patriots.”

Hundley was no less impressive in his unofficial pro debut Thursday.

The fifth-round draft pick from UCLA has become noticeably comfortable running the offense in the last week after a shaky start to the preseason. That manifested itself in game action, as Hundley led all quarterbacks in the game with a sensational passer rating of 138.9 by completing 4 of 6 for 60 yards.


Hundley connected on a 10-yard touchdown pass with undrafted rookie running back John Crockett in the fourth quarter. That was the end of a three-series showing for Hundley.

“I thought Brett did some nice things,” McCarthy said. “The touchdown throw was a nice play.”

Hundley continued to excel in practice Saturday, hooking up with undrafted rookie receiver Larry Pinkard on back-to-back completions of 57 and eight yards, the latter for a touchdown, in a two-minute drill. Hundley also delivered a 31-yard deep ball to Pinkard in Thursday’s game.

“Every day, I’m trying to keep growing and stacking onto the foundation I’ve built,” Hundley said.

Blanchard, a second-year player whose reps in practice have been minimal, saw the field Thursday for the game-ending series. He completed both of his passes for a total of 11 yards, also bettering Rodgers in the passer-efficiency category with a mark of 89.6.

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