Backup QBs solid as Packers win preseason finale
GREEN BAY--Mike McCarthy dreads this time of year.
The Green Bay Packers’ roster must be trimmed to the 53-man limit by Saturday. One of the most important decisions for McCarthy is whether to go with Matt Flynn or Scott Tolzien as the backup to starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
He might even keep both with the way Flynn and Tolzien played in the 34-14 win Thursday night over the Kansas City Chiefs to wrap up the preseason.
Flynn and Tolzien each threw for two touchdowns against a defense that looked lost at times in a game played mostly by reserves.
“I think Matt and Scott have both championed the case to be on our football team,” McCarthy said.
Flynn threw for 102 yards and Tolzien had 139 in splitting reps by quarter in the evening’s most closely watched position battle. They both made solid cases to be the insurance policy at quarterback a season after Rodgers missed seven weeks with a collarbone injury.
McCarthy has said he doesn’t wants to overreact to what happened the previous year, and that Flynn and Tolzien are competing with everyone else on the roster.
“I would obviously love” if McCarthy kept three quarterbacks, Tolzien said. “But I don’t know what’s going to happen. Hopefully we’ll keep three.”
McCarthy loves how his team got better through the preseason. It will also make for a nerve-wracking few days with cuts looming.
“We’ve hit the targets. Now we’ve got the next 48 hours … the worst part of our jobs,” McCarthy said.
Chiefs third-string quarterback Tyler Bray threw for 116 yards and a touchdown on 8-of-15 passing. Joe McKnight added 50 yards and a score on 10 carries in vying for the third-string running back job.
But the Chiefs were maligned by 14 penalties, seven in a first half that ended with Green Bay up by 13.
“You’re always going to have penalties, but we have to try to learn from them and not shoot ourselves in the foot,” Bray said.
Chiefs receiver A.J. Jenkins made one of the most impressive plays of the night with a diving 45-yard catch. Third-string quarterback Tyler Bray followed on the next play with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Richard Gordon late in the second quarter.
A receiving corps already dented by injuries to Dwayne Bowe and Junior Hemingway took more hits Thursday night. Jenkins later left with a concussion, while Kyle Williams departed in the first quarter with a sprained shoulder.
Bowe has a groin injury, and the Chiefs already know their No. 1 receiver will miss the opener because a suspension for an arrest in November.
Still, Reid said he thought his team’s depth at receiver would be fine.
“It’s good to get the preseason over and get on with the regular season,” Reid said.
Otherwise, the Packers (3-1) set the tone early and were never threatened. They look to be in good shape heading into next week’s season opener at the Super Bowl champion Seahawks.
Flynn hit rookie Davante Adams on play-action for a 22-yard touchdown on the Packers’ opening drive.
On his first drive in the second quarter, Tolzien hit rookie receiver Jeff Janis for a 33-yard touchdown near the front corner of the end zone. Janis beat cornerback Phillips Gaines, who was also whistled for illegal contact and holding penalties in the game.
Janis, a seventh-round pick, also had a 62-yard kickoff return that set up Tolzien’s second touchdown pass. Janis looks to be a lock to make the roster now.
“I know I’ve got a lot more work to do and a lot more things that I need to work on. So, you’ve just got to hope for the best,” Janis said.
Flynn said he planned to go home and spend time with his wife and dogs the next few days “and go about normal everyday life and hope you don’t get a call.”
Packers undrafted free agent Jayrone Elliott also bolstered his underdog bid to make the roster with his fifth sack, beating Chiefs first-string tackle Donald Stephenson.
Along with Rodgers, the Packers also held out starters Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers.