Nearly three years removed from his last start and only three days away from his next, Scott Tolzien has quickly gained support in the Packer locker room. Tolzien will make his first NFL start Sunday when the Packers meet the Giants at MetLife Stadium. The last time he started a game, he was wearing Cardinal and White for the Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl against TCU. I stopped by a couple of veteran's lockers after practice today to guage the level of confidence they have in the backup to Aaron Rodgers' backup, pressed into duty less than two weeks since he was a member of the practice squad.
When I asked wide receiver James Jones what is Tolzien's greatest asset that will allow him to handle what he's being asked to handle on Sunday, the veteran didn't flinch. "Extremely smart, works extremely hard and he'll be well prepared for anything he sees," Jones said. Fullback John Kuhn said Tolzien has, "real confidence." Kuhn told me it's not bravado or "macho man" stuff, he is confident in himself and rightfully so. Kuhn said he was surprised to hear Tolzien take charge in the huddle last week against Philadelphia, telling the offense to follow me. Kuhn said that belief has sunk in with the rest of the guys on offense who really want to play hard for him Sunday.
Second year defensive back Casey Hayward had a big setback against the Eagles. He re-injured a hamstring that Mike McCarthy said today will require multiple weeks to get right. Just days into training camp, Hayward, a member of the NFL's all-rookie team last year with a team high six interceptions, badly pulled his hamstring. It took months for him to return, getting spot duty the past couple of weeks and now his second NFL season just might be over.
The rest of the Thursday injury report offered little change. Don Barclay still hasn't practiced with a knee injury. Also on the sidelines were Aaron Rodgers, Mike Neal, Johnny Jolly, Nick Perry and Hayward. Limited participants were Ryan Pickett, Andy Mulumba and Evan Dietrich-Smith. Clay Matthews was a full participant with a new and improved protective piece of equipment for his thumb. Gone was the cumbersome club and in it's place, a fiberglass splint that wraps around the base of the thumb and palm of the hand. His fingers are exposed. Matthews is hoping doctors give him the OK to use it on Sunday.
Two numbers that could be a big factor in New Jersey are 3 and 16. Three is the shocking number of interceptions for the Packers' defense through nine games. 16 is the equally surprising number of interceptions thrown by Giants quarterback Eli Manning this year. Green Bay is at the bottom of the NFL list, Manning is at the top. It's one of a couple of subjects I broached with Tramon Williams (interception-less this year) during a one on one visit in the locker room today. Give it a listen.