If Wallace goes down, Tolzien's ready
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There are no mulligans in the NFL, no reset buttons.
So it goes for the Green Bay Packers, who lost quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone Monday night against the Bears.
Pressed into service, backup Seneca Wallace was serviceable, completing 11 of 19 passes for 114 yards. However, he threw an interception, and he didn't have a completion of longer than 17 yards. He also was sacked four times.
The Bears' 27-20 win created a three-way tie at the top of the NFC North, giving the Packers little time to get Wallace ready for today's game with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Needing a healthy backup for Wallace, they filled the role in-house, promoting Fremd product Scott Tolzien from the practice squad. With the Wisconsin grad only a play away from taking the field, the Packers needed to get him some work at practice as well.
"We need to get Scott involved in the drives and give him a little bit, too, because you've got to make sure your No. 2 is ready," head coach Mike McCarthy said.
Tolzien, 26, has been with the Packers practice squad since Sept. 2. The Browns reportedly showed interest in signing Tolzien to their 53-player roster in October, but he elected to stay with Green Bay, reportedly receiving a raise in the process.
The Browns' pursuit of Tolzien — and the Packers' willingness to keep him — speaks well of the Rolling Meadows native. In Cleveland, Tolzien would have been reunited with offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who worked with him as the Chargers' head coach in 2011.
In an October interview with the Daily Herald, Tolzien indicated the Packers worked their practice-squad players like those on the roster.
"Really, everything is the exact same, except your paycheck at the end of the week is different. But with that being said, you're still preparing as if you're playing in the game."
Diligence was regarded as one of Tolzien's strengths coming out of Wisconsin in 2011. In Pro Football Weekly's 2011 Draft Preview, Tolzien's "outstanding intangibles" were cited as one of his assets.
"Really studies the game," the PFW scouting report on Tolzien read. "Terrific work ethic — self-made, a film junkie. Understands football concepts. Highly respected, competitive, a team leader. Takes great pride in his craft — football is very important to him."
At 5-foot-11, Wallace, is several inches shorter than Tolzien and is the more mobile quarterback. He also has good arm strength, which PFW said Tolzien lacked at that time.
"Cannot generate velocity on the ball," PFW's draft expert, Nolan Nawrocki, wrote of Tolzien two years ago. "Is easily tracked down in the pocket with marginal agility."
After spending 2011 with San Diego and two seasons with San Francisco, the Packers saw enough to sign him as the season began.
Now, the Packers need to prepare Wallace to be ready within the framework of their offense.
"It's important to stay in tune with his skill set, but also utilize the other players," McCarthy said of Wallace on Wednesday. "I mean, conceptually, we're not going to reinvent the wheel here.
"I'm fully confident in our time together in Seneca's participation to this point that we'll continue to run the majority of our offense."
On Sunday, Wallace will start a regular-season game for the first time in two seasons. Tolzien, meanwhile, will be active in a regular-season game for only fourth time in his NFL career, one in which he's never taken the field in an non-preseason contest.
Consider the Packers' quarterback contingency plan activated.
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