Annual 89-to-1 Roster Countdown: 35-39

Part 8 of our annual series leads off with Matt Flynn, aka Capt. Comeback. Among Flynn's feats last season were doing what Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre failed to do during their Green Bay careers.

For the sixth year, Packer Report takes a bottom-to-top look at the Green Bay Packers’ roster. This list doesn't necessarily rank the players from best to worst, but we take into account the players’ importance on the roster and other factors such as contracts and potential.

RankPlayerPos.HtWtAgeYrSchool
35 Matt FlynnQB6-2 225 297Louisiana State
36 Scott TolzienQB6-2 213 264Wisconsin
37 Khyri ThorntonDE6-3 304 24RSouthern Mississippi
38 Josh BoydDE6-3 310 242Mississippi State
39 Don BarclayT/G6-4 305 253West Virginia

Flynn: Just call Flynn “Capt. Comeback.”

In one of the most absurd stats you could ever imagine, the Packers had never won a game under coach Mike McCarthy when trailing by more than one score in the second half. That’s a combined record of 0-30 with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers running the show. Flynn, the team’s fourth quarterback of the season, posted two victories and a tie in that situation.

More brilliant research from Football Outsiders’ Scott Kacsmar: The Packers hadn’t won a game when trailing by more than a score in the second half since 2004. Home teams had been 505-2 when leading by 23 points since 1999. Flynn made it 505-3 by shocking Dallas with the largest comeback in Packers history. The Packers hadn’t overcome a 16-point deficit since a 1989 game against New Orleans. Flynn got the tie against Minnesota and the win at Dallas.

In the fourth quarter last season, Flynn had a league-best 122.2 passer rating. (Rodgers was second at 114.0.) He also had the sixth-best red zone rating at 101.9. That was the key stat as Green Bay went 13-for-21 in the red zone (61.9 percent) vs. 20-for-44 (45.5 percent) for the other quarterbacks.

In five games with Green Bay, he completed 102-of-166 passes (61.4 percent) for 1,146 yards (6.90 per attempt) with seven touchdowns, four interceptions and a rating of 86.1.

A miserable performance at Detroit notwithstanding, it was a mostly magical performance from a quarterback who couldn’t find any magic with Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo.

“I’ve always tried to keep a confidence level for myself (but) last year was hard, at times,” he said. “Especially right in the middle of the season. And coming back here and being able to put some games together — there was a lot of downs as well as there were ups while I was here — but to be able to have those ups and come away with some wins and play what I felt was pretty quality football, it just kind of reassured what I’ve always tried to keep believing, so it was good for me. It was very satisfying and gratifying for me personally — for a lot of reasons that weren’t … for a lot of reasons. But that’s over now. it’s a clean slate.”

Flynn re-signed in free agency, a one-year deal with a $730,000 base salary, $75,000 signing bonus and roster bonuses of $10,000 for each game on the 46-man roster.

Tolzien: Tolzien will challenge Flynn for the No. 2 spot for 2014 and, quite possibly, beyond.

Thrown into an incredibly difficult situation — no offseason or training camp with Green Bay, on the practice squad one week and playing six days later — Tolzien predictably had his share of ups and downs.

In three games, he completed 55-of-90 passes (61.1 percent) for 717 yards (7.97 per attempt) with one touchdown, five interceptions and a rating of 66.8. He led the team to just 33 points. On the other hand, his yards-per-attempt production was outstanding. His 619 passing yards in his first two NFL games ranks fourth all-time. Against the Giants, he completed all four passes thrown at least 20 yards downfield.

With an offseason to learn the nuances of the offense and the techniques that are being coached, can Tolzien put together all of his strengths to become a legit quarterback?

“Scott’s a great kid, hard worker (and) has the skill-set to be a quarterback at this level — no question,” quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said. “He’ll only get better with more time. He’s another guy who wasn’t here for the offseason and training camp. So we expect a lot of growth out of him. But he’s a hard worker, as smart as they come, diligent guy, always in the playbook, always asking questions.”

Tolzien is entering his final season under contract.

Thornton: Thornton, the first of the team’s third-round picks, fits the direction of becoming more versatile on defense. After playing nose tackle at Southern Mississippi last season, Thornton will be in the mix as one of the defensive ends in the base defense and one of the interior players in the nickel package.

Dave-Te’ Thomas, the NFL’s head scout, compared him to former Vikings standout Kevin Williams. “With his speed, lateral agility and strength, he could develop nicely if a patient coach will teach him proper technique,” reads his official scouting report from the league. “If he continues to grow and add strength, few blockers at the professional level will have success in containing him.”

Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac was attracted to ”get-off off the ball” and ability to get into gaps.

“Khyri’s a good athlete at 300-some pounds, a 300-pound kid that can move,” Trgovac said. “He’s raw, but he’s a good worker, so he’s going to have to catch up to these guys to get some playing time, but he’s got some skill and some talent.”

Boyd: Boyd, a fifth-round pick last year, played in just three of the first 11 games as a rookie and earned just 14 defensive snaps. In the last six games (including playoffs), Boyd played 106 snaps. During that same period, first-round pick Datone Jones played only 61 snaps. Boyd played in 32 snaps against Dallas, in which he shined with one tackle for loss and drew a holding penalty.

With Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett not retained in free agency, the Packers will need Boyd to take a big Year 1 to Year 2 jump. He’ll be in the mix as one of the starting defensive ends and a defensive tackle in nickel when stopping the run is the primary focus.

“Josh needs to take his game (up),” Trgovac said. “Josh earned our playing time that we gave him last year. We didn’t just give it to him. Every time we put him in the deal, he was showing up. And that’s what he needs to keep doing.”

Barclay: Barclay went from undrafted rookie in 2012 to a 14-game starter at right tackle in 2013. He certainly wasn’t great, with 9.5 sacks and two holds among his five penalties, according to STATS. He was, however, an asset in the run game, as he used his tenaciousness to win more often than not.

Barclay, who is entering his final season under contract, presumably will be banished to the role of utilityman for 2014 with the return of Bryan Bulaga, assuming he can stay healthy after missing the last season-and-a-half. If he’s not starting, Barclay would provide tremendous versatility as a backup at right tackle, right guard and left guard.

“Donny Barclay, to me, is a starting football player,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s earned the opportunity to compete for a starting position and him and Bryan will compete on the right side. We’ve got to make sure we have as much competition as we possibly can. Donny has the ability to potentially play five positions on the offensive line. I don’t know how many guys you can say that about.”


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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