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Packers QB Tolzien to get first start Sunday against Giants

The Canadian Press

11/13/2013 10:42:47 PM

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Get a flow chart ready to follow the Packers' quarterback situation.

The old backup is now the backup again. He's taking the place of the guy who was the backup, who played for a series before he was injured and gave way to the former third-stringer. All this after Aaron Rodgers got hurt.

Amid that instability, is a picture of calm, at least at his locker Wednesday. Former practice squad player Scott Tolzien is keeping things simple as he prepares to make his first career NFL start, Sunday at the New York Giants.

"It's the same game that you played in high school, in youth football ... You're trying to move the football, take care of the football, and finish with drives with a score or kick," Tolzien said. "So you try to minimize (the) impact that the game has, and just treat it as the same game as you were a kid."

Coach Mike McCarthy has said Rodgers might be a couple weeks away from returning from a fractured left collarbone. Seneca Wallace is on injured reserve after hurting his groin last week against the Eagles, giving Tolzien to impress coach Mike McCarthy.

Now, Matt Flynn's back this week to back up Tolzien. And yeah, that's a little weird to Flynn that Rodgers isn't calling the shots.

"Yeah, I don't think anyone will ever get used to that," Flynn said. "He's just been a solid, consistent guy. I think it's weird for everybody, probably, to prepare, get through a game and prepare without him."

Just another in the seemingly endless list of challenges encountered by coach Mike McCarthy in an injury-filled season.

And stop saying that word that begins with "I," please!

"We're not going to need (Flynn), OK? I've had enough of this bad karma about quarterbacks getting injured," McCarthy said. "So Scott's going to play the whole game" Sunday.

Tolzien earned the shot after playing relatively well in relief of Wallace considering he had only a handful of snaps the previous week, throwing for 280 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in the 27-13 loss to the Eagles.

McCarthy and Rodgers have been impressed with Tolzien's work ethic. He was signed before the start of the season after being released by the 49ers, and Tolzien recounted how he used to sleep on the coach at the team facility after putting in long hours getting ready.

He's not doing that in Green Bay, but he's apparently just as hard-working and detailed.

"He eats well because he's here all the time, so I'm not worried about him," McCarthy said. "The man loves it, and you've got to appreciate his work ethic. It's refreshing, and it's good for everybody, and he's going about it the right way."

Maybe it's because of his blue-collar Midwestern sensibility. Tolzien is from Illinois, and he played college ball at Wisconsin. This is big news in the Badger Country.

There are more demands on his time as the starting quarterback. But he's keeping things in perspective.

"I think my job right now is to put the blinders on, have some tunnel vision and focus on the task at hand," Tolzien said. That's getting the offence ready for the Giants and ending the Packers' two-game skid.

Now he can draw on Flynn for advice, too. Flynn owns a share of the franchise single-game passing record of 480, set the last time he played in Green Bay, on Jan. 1, 2012, against the Lions.

He signed with the Seahawks as a free agent the following off-season but lost his job to Russell Wilson (another former Wisconsin quarterback). Seattle traded Flynn to the Oakland in the off-season. He was cut by the Raiders in October then signed by the Bills before being released by Buffalo last week -- on the same day that Rodgers got hurt.

Both McCarthy and Flynn have said the quarterback's arm is fine. Flynn said that while things have changed with the running game since he was last in Green Bay, he's right at home with the passing playbook.

"I feel confident that I'll be back fluent in this offence real soon," he said.

Notes: Center Evan Dietrich-Smith (knee) was a limited participant in practice Wednesday. McCarthy said RT Don Barclay (knee) was getting better, and was waiting to get fitted with a brace to return to practice. ... LB Clay Matthews practiced without the "club" over his right hand, but still sported protection on his injured thumb.