Tolzien will start for Packers against Vikings

November 19, 2013

 
Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy talks to quarterback Scott Tolzien during the first half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. Tolzien replaced injured quarterback Seneca Wallace earlier in the game.

GREEN BAY Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Scott Tolzien will remain the starting quarterback as Aaron Rodgers continues to recover from a broken collarbone.

McCarthy said Monday that Tolzien will start Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field, even though the coach said he had not yet spoken with the team's medical personnel about where Rodgers stands with his injury.

Tolzien completed 24 of 34 passes for 339 yards, but threw three interceptions in the Packers' 27-13 loss to the New York Giants Sunday in his first NFL start.

A week earlier, Tolzien came on for an injured Seneca Wallace after one series in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and McCarthy tabbed him the starter after that game.

"Scott Tolzien will start this week. Was that as quick as last week?" McCarthy said Monday when asked about his quarterback plans for the Vikings.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers throws a pass as his team warms up before an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J.

"Scott Tolzien will go into the week as the starter, just like he did last week."

The phrase "will go into the week" does leave McCarthy some wiggle room to go with Rodgers instead, if team physician Patrick McKenzie clears Rodgers to play.

Rodgers broke his left collarbone in a Nov. 4 loss to the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field, which started the Packers' three-game losing streak.

"We all understand the importance of players returning from injury, the anxiousness of any player to get back on the field, but that's always a collective conversation the medical staff, the player ... and really, I don't make medical decisions," McCarthy said.

"That will be no different with Aaron Rodgers. We all know he wants to play. He wants to play as soon as he can. But those are big decisions when you put a player back on the field. When everybody's confident, then that's when it will happen."

Then again, the day after the injury, McCarthy said of Rodgers, "Let's not kid ourselves, if he walked in your office and asked for the ball on Saturday, what would you do?"

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Scott Tolzien look at a video board during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. The Eagles won 27-13.

Each of the past two weeks, the Packers have waited until Friday to officially rule out Rodgers.

Asked whether his announcement of Tolzien as the starter meant Rodgers definitely won't play, McCarthy said, "I have not spoken to the medical staff about Aaron Rodgers' status."

Asked if he'd been told last week already that Rodgers wouldn't play against the Vikings, McCarthy said, "No, we haven't had that conversation."

For the Packers, Sunday's game is crucial.

At 5-5 and trailing Chicago (6-4) and Detroit (6-4) in the NFC North, they can ill afford to lose another game with Rodgers on the sideline. Their next game is a Nov. 28 Thanksgiving showdown with the Lions at Ford Field, a game Rodgers is hoping to start.

"You know Aaron. You know how competitive he is. He's like a linebacker playing quarterback. That's just his competitive nature," Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews said.

"It's like me sitting out with a broken thumb. Just because I can't play, it doesn't make it any easier sitting on the sideline.

"But we need to be a little smarter with him. Not just because of his title as a franchise quarterback, but the fact that it's a tricky injury. I mean, you get hit once and go down once awkwardly and the season's over."

The last time the Packers were .500 after 10 games was 2008, Rodgers' first year as the starter. They went on a five-game losing streak after that, winning the regular-season finale over a winless Lions team to finish 6-10.

Since then, the Packers had lost back-to-back games only three times before their current losing streak.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones catches a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J.

The last time: After Rodgers suffered a concussion during a 7-3 loss at Detroit on Dec. 12, 2010.

The Packers then lost the following week at New England, with backup Matt Flynn starting in Rodgers' place.

Against the Giants, Tolzien's biggest mistake came on Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul's leaping interception at the line of scrimmage, which he returned 24 yards for a touchdown with 10 minutes, 49 seconds left in the game.

The Packers had pulled within 20-13 on the previous possession and their struggling defense had forced the Giants to go three-and-out to give Tolzien the ball back with a chance to lead a game-tying touchdown drive.

"(Pierre-Paul) made a nice play, but it's on me. I gave him a freebie there, really," said Tolzien, who has thrown five interceptions in two games.

"That's a huge moment swing. We had a chance, and that kills you, and I'll learn from it. But I take full onus on that one."

 

Associated Press