Former Badger Tolzien progressing as Packers' backup

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By Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
August 8, 2015

GREEN BAY—When evaluating Green Bay Packers backup Scott Tolzien, assistant coach Alex Van Pelt almost always checks the quarterback's feet, because if he's not moving them the way Aaron Rodgers does he's doing it wrong.

Lately, however, Van Pelt—as well as a lot of others—can't help focusing on Tolzien's arm.

Over the past three practices, including one of his best as a pro Thursday morning, Tolzien has been throwing tight, accurate spirals. Awkward at best when forced into action two years ago, Tolzien's feet and arm are starting to work together and the results have been pretty.

“He's throwing it really well, better than I've seen,” said Van Pelt, who coaches quarterbacks and receivers. “His arm looks live. He's been very accurate and I've been proud of Scott. He's come a long way.”

The coming of age this summer hit its apex during a 2-minute drill Monday when Tolzien hooked up with receiver Myles White on a long touchdown that would have won the game if it were being played in an NFL stadium.

Tolzien not only took charge in the huddle, but he got the defense to jump offside with a hard count and adeptly sidestepped the rush before laying the ball up perfectly for about a 30-yard touchdown. He did just about everything Rodgers would do in a similar situation.

“You saw a little bit of the knowledge of the game, the voice inflection, the cadence and then the footwork that we work and then the accurate throw for a touchdown,” Van Pelt said. “That summed up that one play in that series. He did some good things to get us down there.”

The Packers have invested a lot of time and energy in developing Tolzien, who arrived at the start of the 2013 regular season when the backup position was in a shambles. Tolzien had been in a different system in San Francisco and had to learn on the fly how to play in Green Bay's.

The following year he still wasn't where coach Mike McCarthy wanted him and had to sit behind veteran Matt Flynn the entire year as the No. 3 quarterback. But knowing Tolzien was a fanatical student of the game and trusting that he was athletic enough to play in the Packers system, McCarthy went for the payoff, choosing not to re-sign Flynn this off-season and anointing the former Wisconsin Badgers player the backup.

On Monday, he got a glimpse of what he envisioned with Tolzien and on Thursday he saw even more.

In a no-huddle drill, Tolzien connected on a long corner route to Ty Montgomery, then hit White with a dart on an out in the end zone. Later, he hit receiver Larry Pinkard right in the chest on a curl route in traffic. Then he hit White again on a back-shoulder route.

He finished a blitz drill by avoiding the rush and drilling rookie tight end Kennard Backman in the end zone.

“I feel more comfortable within the system playing with the guys around me,” Tolzien said. “It's helped, but it's still early. We're only a week in and there's a lot of football to be played. I have to just build on the good and stay consistent.”

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