Flynn prepared to start

The rookie might have seventh-round talent but he has championship pedigree and big-game experience.

If Matt Flynn starts on Sunday, he won't be your ordinary rookie quarterback.

While hyped quarterbacks like Flynn's former collegiate teammate, Oakland's JaMarcus Russell, Flynn's current teammate, Brian Brohm, and Sunday's other starting quarterback, Atlanta's Matt Ryan, arrived on the NFL scene with eye-popping resumes, stunning stats and amazing physical tools, Flynn has what they don't: a national championship.

In his last start on Jan. 7, Flynn completed 19-of-27 passes for 174 yards and a school-record-tying four touchdown passes as LSU pounded Ohio State 38-24 for the national championship. He was voted the game's offensive MVP.

To be sure, the Buckeyes and the Southeastern Conference defenses Flynn faced weekly during his senior season at LSU aren't of NFL caliber, but the talent levels are high and provided good training.

"I feel like, coming from LSU, playing in a lot of big games, playing with a lot of guys that have been in the NFL, I feel that I'm as prepared as a rookie coming into the NFL as anyone can really be," Flynn said on Friday. "I feel very confident in myself, and if I need to play, I'll try to make the best of it and make the best of my opportunity."

Flynn seemed at ease in the locker room in the days leading to the game. Maybe he'll flinch when he trots on the field for the first time, but with a week to prepare for this moment and his big-game experience to draw upon, Flynn probably won't be overwhelmed should he have to start.

"I think you have to admire Matt Flynn's disposition, the way he approaches football," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Nothing rattles him. He practices the same every day, as far as his demeanor and so forth. I don't worry about the game as far as the environment. He's played in big games. Matt's won a national championship, that speaks for itself."

That Flynn is in this position is surprising, regardless of his championship pedigree.

Flynn was a seventh-round draft pick and the 12th quarterback selected in this year's draft. Even with the Packers' prodigious success with late-round draft picks, it seemed Flynn would be a long shot to make the final roster. Brohm, a second-round pick with what many scouts believed was first-round talent, would be the backup, and if he stumbled, the Packers would sign a veteran, right?

Not exactly.

Flynn outplayed Brohm throughout training camp and the preseason. In fact, he played at such a level that Flynn probably made it impossible for the Packers to bring in a veteran. Teams can't afford to use a precious roster spot on a fourth quarterback, and the Packers certainly weren't going to give up on a second-round pick with prodigious college stats and they figured there was no way Flynn would make it to or last on the practice squad.

"It's been crazy so far, but I feel I've progressed as a quarterback. Maybe I'm getting a great opportunity," Flynn said.

If he does get that opportunity, it will be rookie against rookie on Sunday. Ryan, a strong-armed quarterback out of Boston College who was coached by former Packers offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski, is off to a decent start with the Falcons.

While he's completed only 52.4 percent of his passes and has just two touchdowns in 105 attempts, he's also only thrown two interceptions. His 12.2 yards per pass completion show his willingness to push the ball down the field rather than fall into the dink-and-dunk trap that leads to pretty completion percentages but bogged-down attacks.

"Just do what you do," was Ryan's advice to Flynn during a Wednesday conference call. "You have to be confident yourself and you've got to believe that you can make plays," he added, "and anytime that you've done that in the past, that helps build your confidence. He made a bunch of plays in college and did some really good things, and he can draw back on that."

Ryan's coach, first-year Falcons leader Mike Smith, came to Atlanta after serving as Jacksonville's defensive coordinator for the last five seasons. He knows the challenge of running an offense through a rookie.

"I just think the inexperience of actually playing against the looks that you're going to get," Smith said in a separate conference call on Wednesday. "When you have a young quarterback like we have, we know that he's going to get something that's unscouted. I think that's the thing that you have to concern yourself with is, is he going to be able to handle the looks that the defensive coordinators are going to put at him."

To get him ready for those defenses, Flynn got the bulk of the work at practice this week, especially Thursday and Friday. If McCarthy figures the risk is too great and the possible reward too small for starting Rodgers, it appears he's ready to sink or swim with Flynn.

"I'm a believer in you need to let the quarterback ... I've never believed in the quick hook," McCarthy said. "If Matt is the starter, he'll have a number of chances."

It's an opportunity Flynn is embracing. He said he had a good week of practice and built some chemistry with his explosive receiving corps. The physical work is done. Now, he's in wait-and-see mode, and it's possible he won't know whether he's starting until a couple hours before kickoff.

"If I get my opportunity to go," Flynn said, "I'm going to do my best so there's not a dropoff."

Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and E-mail him at

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