The Green Bay Packers will begin three weeks of organized team activities following Memorial Day weekend, with the first of those that’s open to the public on Thursday, May 28. We get you ready with a positional look at the team, which starts with the quarterbacks.
Rookies and first-year players: Brett Hundley (fifth round).
Noteworthy: With Tolzien and Matt Flynn free agents, the Packers handed Tolzien a two-year contract, even though Flynn served as the No. 2 quarterback throughout 2014 and kept the team afloat in 2013. Blanchard, the former Division III star at Wisconsin-Whitewater, was signed as a street free agent after spending time on the practice squads of the Bears and Panthers after going undrafted in 2012. Hundley, the record-setting quarterback at UCLA, is under contract through 2018. That’s one less season than Rodgers.
The star: He dates movie stars. He wins “Jeopardy!” And he earns MVPs, with Rodgers capturing top honors in 2011 and 2014. Last season, despite having only two proven playmakers in the passing game, Rodgers threw 38 touchdown passes against five interceptions, with his 7.6-to-1 ratio being twice as good as Tom Brady’s second-ranked 3.8-to-1. He’s gone more than two seasons without tossing an interception at home, with his 36 touchdowns and 418 passing attempts during that span being league records. His mastery of the offense is so good that he’s practically a coach on the field, and that allowed coach Mike McCarthy to step away from play-calling duties.
The battle: Tolzien will enter OTAs as the overwhelming favorite to be the backup. He’s spent two seasons absorbing all the nuances of the Packers’ offense and learning the techniques taught by McCarthy, assistant head coach Tom Clements and quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt. So, while Tolzien will be running the offense during OTAs, the rookie Hundley will simply be trying to spit out the play in the huddle – something he didn’t even do at UCLA. Hundley is intelligent, talented and a hard worker but the distance is probably too great between him and Tolzien, who isn’t exactly lacking in intelligence or talent.
Rookie impact: Deep inside, Hundley no doubt is incredibly disappointed that he didn’t go in the second or third round – never mind the first round. But for the long-term good of his career, he’s incredibly fortunate. That’s what Kurt Warner, the former MVP quarterback and current NFL Network analyst who spent a couple days with Hundley to help get him ready for the NFL, said this week. Rather than the weekly pressure of the next game, Hundley can watch and learn behind Rodgers and Tolzien. Whether it’s a trade in 2017 or 2018 or free agency in 2019, Hundley should be prepared to start whenever opportunity finally knocks.
Quoteworthy: “It certainly seems to be trending that way, that they play early,” McCarthy said at the Scouting Combine when asked about quarterbacks starting as rookies, a development that stands in contrast to Rodgers’ path with Green Bay. “We were very fortunate. I’m sure it drove Aaron crazy, but we were very fortunate that we had the situation we had, and I think it’s unfortunate that maybe some of the guys don’t have that luxury, that they’re forced to play early.”
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