GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) – For the first time since 2008, Aaron Rodgers’ first year as an NFL starter, the Green Bay Packers plan to go into the season with three quarterbacks on the roster.
Holdovers Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien survived the big roster cutdown to 53 players Saturday after both players had a competitive preseason competition as the backups to Rodgers.
Coach Mike McCarthy suggested after the Packers’ final preseason game Thursday night that Flynn and Tolzien were worthy of staying with the team.
“I think Matt and Scott have both championed the case to be on our football team,” McCarthy said. “I feel very good about their progress from last year through the spring all the way through training camp.”
The Packers went through four starting quarterbacks during a stretch of eight games late in the season in 2013. Tolzien and Flynn, a 2008 Green Bay draft pick who returned to the team in November, were among those who filled in while Rodgers missed seven games because of a collarbone injury.
With a healthy Rodgers on a limited playing schedule this preseason, Flynn and Tolzien had ample opportunities to contend for roster spots. Each of the backups matched Rodgers with three touchdown passes in the preseason.
The Packers pared their preseason roster by 22 players Saturday.
Teams had until 4 p.m. EDT Saturday to set their initial 53-man roster for the start of the season. Green Bay plays the league’s first game Thursday night at the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
The Packers released 18 players and placed four on injured reserve.
Notable cuts included safety Chris Banjo and wide receivers Myles White and Kevin Dorsey.
Banjo played every game and made one start last season for the Packers as an undrafted rookie. White also saw game action as an undrafted rookie with the team in 2013. Dorsey, a seventh-round draft pick by Green Bay, missed his entire rookie season last year with a toe injury.
Speedy rookie Jeff Janis, a seventh-round pick who missed the first part of the preseason with shingles, is one of five receivers the Packers kept.
Tight end Jake Stoneburner was among the players to go on the injured-reserve list. He appeared in nine games with Green Bay as an undrafted rookie last season.
Green Bay also released running backs Michael Hill and LaDarius Perkins, receiver Alex Gillett, tight end Justin Perillo, center Garth Gerhart, offensive tackles John Fullington and Jeremy Vujnovich, offensive guard Jordan McCray, defensive end Luther Robinson, defensive tackle Carlos Gray, linebackers Jake Doughty and Adrian Hubbard, safety Tanner Miller, and cornerbacks Jumal Rolle and Ryan White.
Going on injured reserve with Stoneburner were defensive tackle Khyri Thornton, linebacker Nate Palmer and offensive tackle Aaron Adams.
Thornton, a third-round draft pick this year, suffered a hamstring injury in Thursday’s game. Adams and Palmer, a sixth-round pick last year who played eight games, sustained knee injuries in the same game.
Two undrafted free agents – linebacker Jayrone Elliott and defensive tackle Mike Pennel -made Green Bay’s roster. Elliott had a league-high five sacks in the preseason.