The Green Bay Packers are still exploring their backup quarterback options for the week ahead as 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love prepares to make his first NFL start on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday.
According to the NFL transaction wire, the Packers brought in a pair of young quarterbacks — Danny Etling and Clayton Thorson — for roster workouts on Friday, November 5, with Aaron Rodgers and third-stringer Kurt Benkert still stuck on the reserve/COVID-19 list. At the moment, the only other Packers quarterback available to play against the Chiefs aside from Love is veteran Blake Bortles, who was re-signed to their practice squad on November 4 after Rodgers entered COVID-19 protocol.
Rodgers — who tested positive and is unvaccinated — is not eligible to return to the active roster until next Saturday, November 13, at the earliest and could potentially be at risk of missing Week 10’s game against the Seattle Seahawks if he encounters any issues along the way, such as not being asymptomatic. The timeline is unclear for Benkert given that his vaccination status has not been publicly disclosed, but he will either need to test negative 24 hours apart and show no symptoms (if vaccinated) or wait until after his 10-day isolate ends on November 12 (if unvaccinated).
The Packers also worked out wide receivers Austin Mack and Mike Moss on Friday in addition to activating All-Pro wideout Davante Adams from the COVID-19 list.
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Etling & Thorson Have Yet to Stick in NFL
Etling was a seventh-round pick for the New England Patriots in 2018 who broke the preseason franchise record for longest quarterback run (86 yards) during his first preseason start for the team. He ended up getting a spot on the Patriots’ practice squad for his entire rookie season, winning a Super Bowl LIII ring with the team. He has since spent time with the Atlanta Falcons, Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings and also had a brief stint in the CFL with the BC Lions.
Thorson earned a little more priority when he came into the league in 2019, drawing a fifth-round selection from the Philadelphia Eagles after an impressive four-year career at Northwestern. Things fizzled more quickly, though, with the Eagles cutting him loose during final roster cuts at the end of his first training camp.
Thorson went on to spend nearly a full season with both the Dallas Cowboys (2019) and New York Giants (2020) as a practice-squad quarterback. He was elevated twice to the active roster during his time with the Giants, but he did not play a snap in either game. The Giants finally parted ways with him back in August when he was waived/injured.
The Packers are more likely considering Etling and Thorson for an emergency third-stringer role than as actual competitors for Bortles behind Love. While the offense would be looking at a dark scenario if they somehow didn’t have Love or Bortles capable of playing against the Chiefs, the nature of the league’s COVID-19 protocols gives plenty of reason for them to be cautious.