Packers need a veteran backup QB

Putting two rookies behind Rodgers is too risky of a gamble for a team with the talent to be a major factor in the playoff race.

Ted Thompson strikes me as a practical man. It shows in his drafts and free agency.

Which begs the question: He's not seriously considering going into the upcoming season with two rookies backing up a young quarterback who hasn't proven he can stay healthy?

The Green Bay Packers have too much talent to gamble the entire season on Aaron Rodgers' ability to stay healthy and play well for all 16 regular-season games.

That's not necessarily a knock on Rodgers. Whether or not he deserves the label "injury prone" is up for debate. What isn't up for debate are the hazards of playing the quarterback position. It's easy to forget the dangers of the position after watching Brett Favre show up every Sunday, but he was one of only 12 quarterbacks who made it through all 16 games last season.

So, chances are, the Packers will need to turn to their backup at some point this season, whether it's for a quarter, a game or more. Then what?

Coach Mike McCarthy lauded second-round pick Brian Brohm throughout the offseason program.

"I'll tell you, Brian Brohm is as sharp a young quarterback that I have been around, and that's a big statement because I have been fortunate enough to coach some very bright quarterbacks in their first and second year in the league," McCarthy said after an organized team activity in early June. "I have been very impressed with the way he picks up the scheme and the way he is able to communicate it."

Brohm likely would have been a first-round selection had he entered the draft after his junior season. So, he's got the goods to eventually become a quality NFL player, but rookie quarterbacks — Ben Roethlisberger notwithstanding — rarely taste success. Even the great Peyton Manning struggled during his rookie season, with 26 touchdowns against 28 interceptions.

As former NFL head coach and Packers quarterbacks coach Steve Mariucci once said, the best position for a rookie quarterback is "clipboard."

Seventh-round pick Matt Flynn looked completely out of his element for most of the offseason but picked up the pace during the last week of OTAs and again in minicamp. What he lacks in pure passing skills he makes up for in moxie.

"I think Matt has really done a very good job here the last two weeks, and he's starting to play with some rhythm," McCarthy said during the minicamp earlier this month. "He's made some nice throws, another big-time throw today that he made."

Flynn led LSU to the national championship last season, but clearly, if the Packers have to rely on him this season, they're in big trouble.

The NFL isn't like the NBA, MLB or NHL, which play such long schedules that a game or two likely isn't going to make a huge difference. In the NFL, with its 16-game schedule, every game is critical. Every series, for that matter, is important.

McCarthy acknowledged these Packers have a chance to do something "special" this year. Hopefully, Thompson has a backup plan in mind at quarterback.

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to E-mail him at

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