The Green Bay Packers have traditionally kept four quarterbacks on their 90-man roster in training camp under head coach Mike McCarthy, then cut down to three between the active roster and the practice squad by the time the regular season rolls around. However, some indications from McCarthy’s press conference on Tuesday suggest that he is very open to keeping four on the roster come September.
Brett Hundley and DeShone Kizer are battling for the right to back up Aaron Rodgers this season, but Tim Boyle has put together a nice rookie camp and is fighting for a job in the organization. One school of thought would be to give Boyle minimal playing time in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs; that would both allow Hundley and Kizer to put more reps on tape in their competition and prevent Boyle from impressing other teams in order to increase the chances that he clears waivers and ends up on the practice squad.
However, that is absolutely not on McCarthy’s mind. He made it very clear that Boyle will play the longest of the three QBs at Arrowhead Stadium this Thursday, saying “it’s important for Tim to get some more snaps than the other two since he didn’t play in Oakland.” McCarthy is referring to the fact that Boyle sat out the entire third preseason game while Hundley played the first half and Kizer got the second.
Fundamentally, this decision seems to be something McCarthy is making at least in part out of obligation. Although Boyle’s path to the roster would seem to be blocked ahead of him, McCarthy said “You have to give these players an opportunity to make it on the 53.” Is that obligation or fairness to every player? That can be debated, but he added that “I don’t like it when a guy doesn’t get to play in a game,” speaking specifically about the preseason.
As for Hundley and Kizer, McCarthy seemed to think it was funny that one reporter asked whether he had considered switching their playing time order and giving Kizer the first reps. “Was that a suggestion?” he asked. “That’s a new one. Play time, we have a plan.” To this writer, that seems like a clear no to that question and a tacit acknowledgement that Hundley will continue to play first ahead of Kizer.
One other player who has received less playing time than McCarthy would like in the preseason is wide receiver Trevor Davis. His lack of snaps was not a coaching decision, however, but was due to a hamstring injury keeping him out the last few weeks. Davis returned to practice on Monday, and McCarthy said he wants to see him play, adding that “priority-wise, that will be special teams.” Davis’ best shot at the roster at this point is clearly on returns, and he should get some opportunities on Thursday.
Still, it seems that Jaire Alexander impressed at least a bit on punt returns last week despite only fielding one punt, and McCarthy said that the team has “talked about” giving him some more opportunities this week, even if Davis is back to full availability. However, it looks like that job is coming down to those two individuals.
McCarthy was later asked about rookie wideout J’Mon Moore, who had four receptions for 64 yards in Oakland. Moore also made a great catch in Monday’s practice on a throw from Kizer, and his arrow appears to be pointing upwards. McCarthy agrees: “think J’Mon’s taken a step, based on what he accomplished yesterday and the Oakland (game),” he said. “I’m looking for him to take another step in Kansas City. He’ll play a lot down there.”
The one quarterback not mentioned earlier was Aaron Rodgers, who was reportedly missing from Monday’s practice with an illness. However, McCarthy said that he is feeling better Tuesday and that he was back participating in meetings.