this Nov. 10, 2013, file photo, Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers
and Scott Tolzien watch from the sidelines during the second
half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in
Green Bay, Wis. Offseason workouts will be important for Scott
Tolzien to gain reps and confidence in his new role as the No. 2
backup quarterback for the Packers.
GREEN BAY — Before
he breaks the huddle, Aaron Rodgers likes to think good thoughts about
the play that he's about to run for the Green Bay Packers. There are
plenty of positive memories from which the two-time NFL MVP can draw.
For backup Scott
Tolzien, those memories will have to be generated at practice. If
things are going right for Green Bay, Tolzien will never take a
meaningful snap during a game.
That makes the
offseason even more important for Tolzien, when practice reps are more
plentiful and Rodgers can help keep a watchful eye on his protege.
"What happens to
a guy like Scott, the more reps he gets, especially now and in
training camp ... you start to really store up those positive memories
and stack those successes on top of each of other, to where you're
breaking the huddle, you have that positive memory to flash in your
mind right away," Rodgers said.
In a best case
scenario, Rodgers would take every snap. The 31-year-old Rodgers in
But the last two
seasons have shown the importance of still having a quality backup.
Matt Flynn returned in the middle of the 2013 season to bring
stability to the quarterback position while Rodgers was out with a
Flynn returned as the
backup in 2014, but the Packers also kept Tolzien . The assumption was
that Tolzien would succeed Flynn as the backup in 2015 — and that's
exactly what appears is going to happen after the Packers didn't
re-sign Flynn this offseason.
The studious Tolzien
is known for putting in extra work. Rodgers reminded reporters this
week about how Tolzien spent late nights two years ago running plays
with backup center Garth Gerhart.
While Tolzien hasn't
been concentrating on any one thing in offseason workouts, he said he
is getting a better feel for the nuances of the game.
the quarterback. And along with that, that's a lot on the quarterback,
too. You've got to know where you're protected and where you're not
and the adjustments to make," Tolzien said. "There's a lot
on the quarterback's plate but I think I've learned to appreciate that
because you ultimately know who's protected, who's blocked and who's
not. And that's a huge advantage to have."
Being able to watch
Rodgers is another one. Tolzien looked Rodgers-esque on one two-minute
practice drill this week when he darted a pass over the middle to a
receiver for a touchdown with time expiring.
"I thought he
had, shoot, about three outstanding throws in the third down in the
two-minute — actually, the last two plays of the two-minute were
big-time throws," coach Mike McCarthy said. "At the end,
it's the preseason games. That's where you really want to see every
player take a jump, especially at the quarterback position. And I have
all the confidence that he'll do that."
After playing his
college ball at Wisconsin, Tolzien went undrafted in 2011. He had
stints with the Chargers and 49ers before signing with the Packers in
Tolzien did play
three games in 2013, with two starts while Rodgers was out. He has
another chance to make a lasting impression after spending 2014 behind
Rodgers and Flynn on the depth chart.
Tolzien "saw the
big picture and the opportunity, and he's put himself in a great
situation to make a career for himself," Rodgers said. "It's
just about taking that next step and continuing what he did last year.
He played well enough to be on the 53, and improved enough to where
they wanted to make him the backup."