It has taken Matt Flynn a little while to settle in, but the rookie seventh-round draft pick out of LSU has been progressing nicely as the team's No. 3 quarterback.
Flynn made several eye-catching throws during the two mini-camp practices inside the Don Hutson Center on Tuesday.
In a morning team (11-on-11) drill, he scrambled to his right and hit Jake Allen along the sideline when Allen made a nice move on cornerback Pat Lee to come back to the ball. Then in the afternoon practice, Flynn connected with fellow seventh-rounder Brett Swain on a deep throw down the far sideline, and he hit Swain again during a seven-on-seven drill with a well-placed low throw over the middle against tight coverage from cornerback Jarrett Bush.
"I think Matt has really done a very good job here the last two weeks, and he's starting to play with some rhythm," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's made some nice throws. I'm very happy with the progress of both young quarterbacks, and particularly Matt. I think Matt's really made a step. With that, we have a ton of work left."
McCarthy noted that second-round draft pick Brian Brohm seemed to pick up the offensive scheme a little quicker than Flynn initially, but Flynn is now catching up. Flynn did not run a West Coast-style offense at LSU, so much of the offensive terminology and play-calling was foreign to him from the start.
"A lot of guys coming from West Coast-style offenses in college have similar terminology to what they do now," Flynn said. "For me, it's completely different. You have to re-learn how to call a play in the huddle and the different protections and everything like that.
"I'm going out there and trying to learn it as fast as I can, as best as I can, and trying to perform well. Brian is doing a great job, and I think we're really helping each other out. I feel like we're both doing well, slowly but surely coming along, and getting it."
McCarthy said Tuesday he believes the current roster is the strongest it's been at this point in the offseason during his three years in Green Bay. With one of the youngest teams in the league the past two years, the Packers have had relatively little roster turnover, and as young players have improved, rookies and other aspiring prospects continue to push for roster spots.
"This is the best it's looked since I've been here as far as the names and the talent and the type of people on the board," McCarthy said. "So I'm very happy with that, the depth of it. I think when the time comes to get to 53 (players), there's going to be some tough cuts that we have to make."
The first step will be getting down to the 80-man limit for training camp. The Packers currently have 88 players on the roster, but the nine draft picks and running back Ryan Grant are unsigned for the moment. Once all those contracts are taken care of, eight players will have to be released before the first training camp practice on July 28.
Fullback John Kuhn (groin), offensive tackle Tony Moll (knee) and defensive tackle Daniel Muir (pectoral) were back on the field for full duty after missing either all or most of the OTAs. Meanwhile, tight end Jermichael Finley (bruised knee) also returned to full duty after behind held out of the final week of OTAs.
Offensive tackle Chad Clifton sat out Tuesday, but that's normal precautionary rest for him at this time of year. Center Scott Wells did not participate in the afternoon practice Tuesday, but the reason was not specified. Tight end Tory Humphrey also sat out the second workout, presumably as a precaution for last year's broken lower leg. Cornerback Charles Woodson missed the morning practice for a personal matter but was back for the afternoon workout.
Remaining on the sideline for the time being are offensive lineman Junius Coston (back), defensive tackles Colin Cole (forearm), Johnny Jolly (shoulder) and Justin Harrell (back), cornerback Will Blackmon (foot), and defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (knee). McCarthy noted that had the team been preparing for a game, Coston likely would have been able to participate. All the others are projected to return for training camp.
Flurry of INTs
Some of the team's top defensive backs made the afternoon workout a little rough on Brohm. Cornerback Tramon Williams and safety Atari Bigby both had interceptions on passes over the middle during team work, the first of which came when Brohm tried to make a throw while falling down. Then during a seven-on-seven red zone drill, Woodson stepped in front of a short throw at the goal line for another pick.
The team concluded the afternoon workout Tuesday with each of the three quarterbacks running the two-minute drill.
Trailing 14-10 on his own 40-yard line with 1:31 left and two timeouts, Aaron Rodgers completed five of his first six passes, including two to Greg Jennings, to move the ball to the 9-yard line with 23 seconds left. Two attempts to hit James Jones in the back of the end zone were unsuccessful, but then on fourth down, running back Brandon Jackson was interfered with on a dump-off pass, giving the offense one more snap from the 4-yard line. But Rodgers' throw for Ruvell Martin in the back corner of the end zone was too high.
Faced with a similar scenario, Brohm then led the No. 2 offense down the field with completions to four different pass-catchers - Jordy Nelson (two), Chris Francies, tight end Evan Moore and running back Vernand Morency. Then on first-and-goal from the 9, Brohm hit Moore in the right flat for a TD with 27 seconds left.
On the third possession, the offense was down only 7-6 but had just 1:06 on the clock and one timeout. Flynn initially gained 9 yards by catching his own deflected pass and taking off with it, but then three straight incompletions ended the drive.