Ex-Badgers QB Scott Tolzien on Packers promotion: 'You live for a moment like this'
NOV 07, 2013 8:54a ET
Two months on the practice squad had Tolzien used to being somewhat isolated, as he and the rest of that eight-man minor league group were in a separate section of the room. Tolzien had been getting dressed during that time near the likes of Garth Gerhart and Bryan Collins. The promotion Tolzien received now has him next to Aaron Rodgers and A.J. Hawk.
As Tolzien looked for a spot to settle in for the interview, he migrated to where he felt most comfortable: that auxiliary portion of the locker room that was his home away from home since Sept. 2 when he signed with the Packers' practice squad.
"Honestly, it really hasn't changed a whole lot, because I'd like to think I prepared the same way when I was on the practice squad, standing at this locker here," Tolzien said.
While Tolzien might feel as if his level of preparation hasn't changed, his level of responsibility could change very quickly. Whereas he previously had absolutely no chance of playing in a game so long as he stayed on the practice squad, Tolzien is now just one injury away from being called upon.
"Bottom line is you should prepare like a starter every week," Tolzien said. "It's a small number of guys that are playing quarterback in the NFL, and so really I think it shouldn't change a whole lot. I think your antenna goes up a little bit more, but really, that's why coaches say 'prepare like you're the starter each and every week' because you never know what can happen."
Tolzien wouldn't have moved into the big area of the locker room this week had it not been for the broken collarbone suffered by Rodgers on Monday night. Tolzien described the entire series of events as "unfortunate circumstances." But with the former NFL Most Valuable Player sidelined for at least three games, Green Bay needed a new No. 2 quarterback after Seneca Wallace was bumped up to the starting role.
For Tolzien, a former Wisconsin Badgers quarterback who grew up as a Packers fan in northern Illinois, this opportunity has been long-awaited.
"You don't want to say this is how you draw it up, but this is something that, and I don't want to be cliché, but you live for a moment like this," he said.
If Tolzien hadn't been patient, this moment might have never happened. Two weeks ago, he had an offer to join the Cleveland Browns' active roster. Instead of accepting that, though, Tolzien agreed to stay on Green Bay's practice squad in exchange for a significant salary boost.
"You always consider it, because that's a roster spot," Tolzien said Oct. 31. "When you think of the NFL and how many quarterback spots there are, there's very few total spots when you think about it. It's a small fraternity. You consider it, obviously, when you get an opportunity like that, but you're also weighing all your options and trying to look through all aspects from coaching staff to players. There's just a million pieces to the puzzle, but I like it here. I like the direction that I'm going and that the team is going. I'm glad to be a part of it and happy to be here."
It all paid off in a big way for Tolzien. Not only did he get the increased salary at the time, but now he also gets the active roster spot that Cleveland tempted him with.
When Tolzien initially joined the Packers as a practice-squad member, it was on the same day that the team parted ways with 2012 seventh-round pick quarterback B.J. Coleman. It seemed convenient that Tolzien was signed the week before Green Bay began its season with a road game against his old team, the San Francisco 49ers, a team that the Packers had lost to in the playoffs last season.
Surely Tolzien could provide some insight about the 49ers to Green Bay's coaching staff and then just be tossed aside soon after that game, right? Wrong. That apparently was never in the Packers' plans. They see Tolzien as an important fixture on this team and perhaps someone who will permanently take over the No. 2 quarterback job behind Rodgers next season and beyond.
"I'm pumped for the opportunity," Tolzien said. "It's up to me to prepare and perform."
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