Besides getting quarterback Aaron Rodgers ready to face one of the NFL’s best defenses this week, the Packers also assimilating two new backup quarterbacks into their offense just days before the team's first game.
The Packers cut both backups from training camp, Vince Young and B.J. Coleman, and on Monday replaced them by signing Seneca Wallace as their No. 2 and Scott Tolzien to their practice squad.
Ben McAdoo, their quarterbacks coach, will have worked with Wallace and Tolzien for six days when the Packers take the field Sunday at San Francisco for their regular-season opener.
“I’m sure it’s hard on them, and they’re working very hard,” McAdoo said. “I don’t sleep very much, and I don’t sleep well when I do. I’m looking forward to it.”
Wallace, 33, was out of football last season, just as Young was. Wallace played all seven of his previous seasons in a West Coast offense, for five years with the Seattle Seahawks (2005-09) and for two years with the Cleveland Browns (2010-11).
That should speed his learning of the Packers’ West Coast system, though in all of those seasons he played for former Seahawks’ coach Mike Holmgren or a coach from Holmgren’s branch of the West Coast offense. Mike McCarthy, on the other hand, is from the Paul Hackett branch of the West Coast system.
“The longer you get away from the original West Coast offense, the different angles each of them takes,” McAdoo said. “But there’s some carryover there. He’ll ask about a certain concept and I can go back and relate it to something that he’s familiar with, and vice versa.”
Wallace has a 6-15 record as a starter (5-9 with Seattle, 1-6 with Cleveland) and last played in a game in the regular-season finale in the ’11 season, when he started in a 13-9 loss to Pittsburgh. His career passer rating is 65.4.
“He’s a bright guy,” McAdoo said. “You can definitely see why he’s been around as long as he’s been around. He has good feet.”
If Wallace has to play Sunday, he will have hardly any snaps in practice in the Packers' offense. McCarthy said he's not giving the backups any more snaps this week than in a normal regular-season week, so almost all of Wallace's work will have been running the scout team.
"We can’t lose sight of getting Aaron ready to play this week against San Francisco," McAdoo said. "We’ll never short-change that."
Tolzien, 26, was the 49ers’ No. 3 quarterback the last two seasons but never played in a game. It’s a relatively common practice in the NFL for a team to sign a player who played for its upcoming opponent, so it can gain insight into the team’s schemes and personnel, and then cut him after the game.
“I don’t know of any plans of that,” McAdoo said. “I don’t think this organization would operate that way, but I don’t know. I think he’s a guy we liked and we’d like to have around. Look forward to developing him.”
Tolzien is listed at 6-2 and 213, and appears to be a similar prospect to former Packers backup Graham Harrell in stature and athletic ability.
“I like the guy, I think he’s a high character guy,” McAdoo said of Tolzien. “I like what’s between the ears, he’s a smart guy. He’s a guy that has good rhythm in his feet, and he’s gotten a lot of out of his physical ability. I think we can bring that to life even a little bit more with our fundamentals, and bring his arm alive. I think he’s excited to go through it.”