GREEN BAY—As the fourth quarterback on the Packers roster, rookie Chase Rettig was lucky to get a snap or two during 11-on-11 work throughout the past month of OTAs. In Thursday’s final minicamp practice to conclude the offseason, Rettig finally got a more extended chance to run the offense.
“I’m just trying to make progress every day,” said Rettig, the former Boston College starter. “I’m trying to learn from the guys and do as much on my own so when my name is called I can go execute and give them more reason to put me in.”
With select veterans taking the last workout off, quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn stepped aside in favor of Scott Tolzien and Rettig, making it a day for the backups to cherish.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy praised Tolzien’s efforts, as the former University of Wisconsin signal caller is now light years ahead of where he was when he arrived in Week 1 last season and began learning the playbook from scratch, with no offseason or training camp to prepare.
Rettig is the one starting from ground zero now, and given his limited reps so far this spring, his throws on a deep out to Kevin Dorsey and on a crossing route to Jared Abbrederis during the day’s final team period were noteworthy for their crispness and velocity. He even got the defense to jump offside once with a hard count.
“It was fun to get a good amount of snaps in a row and be able to establish a rhythm,” said Rettig, who also looked smooth on a drag route to tight end Richard Rodgers and a pre-snap check for a quick flip to Dorsey. He didn’t end with a flourish, though, seeing his final pass swatted down with two hands by onrushing rookie linebacker Carl Bradford.
“The big thing is, when you’re not in that position, you have to watch Aaron and Matt and take some mental notes, and they’re usually on point every time. There’s a lot to learn from them, and I’m just trying to absorb all that.”
Rettig could have an uphill climb to knock Tolzien from the No. 3 spot and make the Week 1 roster, but even if that’s the case, there’s the possibility of the practice squad or an opportunity elsewhere.
If the Packers bring four quarterbacks to training camp, he’ll be back to taking only a few 11-on-11 snaps, if that, but he’ll do whatever it takes to be ready for any preseason action, when reserve quarterbacks “make their resume,” he said.
“I’m trying to do everything I can to learn the offense, so when I do get those opportunities, I can make the most of them and the coaches don’t have to worry about me going in and being able to call a play, get us into the right play and execute,” he said.
“You go out there, do your best and give them a reason for you to stick around.”
Tolzien showed on Thursday why he has stuck around. Looking like the take-charge quarterback who played nearly three full games, starting two, last season, Tolzien immediately hit undrafted rookie tight end Justin Perillo on a crossing route in the first team period of practice. Moments later, he threw a similar pass that Colt Lyerla dropped.
In the red zone, Tolzien was especially sharp, connecting with fellow former Badger Abbrederis on a quick out at the goal line, lobbing a fade to the corner that tight end Brandon Bostick caught over rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and then finding Davante Adams in the back of the end zone after a short scramble.
“Anytime the guys are relying on you, when you’re the first guy in the huddle, it’s a big chance for you,” Tolzien said. “But at the same time, it shouldn’t really change how you are. You should prepare like a starter every day.”
Tolzien enjoyed his day of extended reps as much as Rettig did, referencing the “rhythm” it creates from calling the play to making the pre-snap checks to going through reads and progressions at full speed.
McCarthy often says there’s no substitute for those snaps, though developmental prospects like Tolzien and Rettig also appreciate the benefits of watching Rodgers when they aren’t getting as many reps. That was a key part of Flynn’s growth process as well.
“Really, that’s one of the greatest things all of us quarterbacks have going here, is we’re watching the best,” Tolzien said. “Just to observe him every day, you can’t put a price tag on that, everything from his demeanor in the locker room to his demeanor on the practice field, how he studies.
“It’s an awesome opportunity for all of us on a day in, day out basis to watch him do this thing. He’s the best at it.” Additional coverage - June 19 minicamp