:magnifyglass: Green Bay - If Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy were hoping for some kind of sign - any kind of sign - that would tell them whether rookie quarterback Brian Brohm was ready to become Aaron Rodgers' backup this season, they got it Thursday night at Lambeau Field.
Packers quarterback Matt Flynn has the ball stripped by Jevon Kearse during the second quarter.
In the worst of his four exhibition game performances, Brohm showed during a 23-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans that the Green Bay Packers would be taking a major risk going into the regular season with him as the No. 2.
Excuses will be made for poor protection and broken routes, but the bottom line is that Brohm continued a downward trend in his play and showed despite his status as a second-round draft choice that he is not ready for prime time. He finished the exhibition season with a passer rating of 45.2 and led the offense to three points in 17 series.
Against the Titans, four of Brohm's series came against the opponent's No. 1 defense and his other two came against backups. None of his first five drives featured a first down and he didn't lead the team to a first down until late in the game.
"I talked to him in the locker room and he felt good about being there and the things he saw," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "He felt good about all that. I didn't sense any disappointment. I just don't know how much help he had. It was not some of the best protection when he was out there."
Brohm led the offense on a 14-play, 69-yard drive in the fourth quarter, but unlike his rookie teammate, Matt Flynn, was unable to get the team into the end zone. His fourth-down desperation pass to receiver Jake Allen was originally ruled a touchdown but was overturned by instant replay.
On the same night Brohm managed seven completions in 12 attempts for 52 yards with four sacks, Flynn was showing some of the plucky play that helped him lead Louisiana State to a national championship last year. Alternating every two series with Brohm after Rodgers and the No. 1s played one series, Flynn led the offense on two touchdown drives, including one in the last seconds that gave the Packers a chance to send the game into overtime.
"I thought Matt made some big plays down at the end, but once again it's information that you're using to develop the quarterbacks," coach Mike McCarthy said, declining to anoint Flynn the No. 2. "We'll continue to do that."
If there's anything Flynn's performance did it was all but preclude the Packers from obtaining a veteran before or after the cutdown to 53 Saturday. Though McCarthy said he hasn't ruled it out, he and Thompson aren't going to keep four quarterbacks on their roster, so if they pick up a veteran they would have to cut one of the two rookies.
Even though Brohm struggled this summer, the Packers aren't going to give up on a second-round pick whom some teams graded as a first-round talent before the draft. By virtue of his performance against the Titans, Flynn has done enough now to make it unlikely that he would make it through waivers so that he could be placed on the Packers' practice squad.
"I think we've both gotten better each week," Brohm said when asked about whether the Packers need a veteran to back up Rodgers. "Even in practice things are coming to us a lot easier. I feel pretty comfortable I'll keep getting better."
The big question for the Packers is whether Flynn's ability to get the team into the end zone on four of his 16 series during the exhibition season justifies making him the No. 2. Flynn has received the fewest practice snaps during training camp, yet has marched off drives of 62, 52 and 85 yards during the exhibition season.
He finished the summer completing 27 of 42 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 100.2. Though he fumbled three times, he did not throw an interception and showed in the final series Thursday night how good he can be in a highly competitive situation.
"I've always had confidence in myself," Flynn said after completing eight of 13 passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns. "I think we had good execution tonight and when you get those touchdowns it solidifies your confidence."
Flynn would not say he deserves to be No. 2 ahead of Brohm, but he said he thought he competed well despite the limited number of snaps he got in practice. The most impressive part of his game was the 2-minute drill he ran at the end of the game, especially considering he got only a handful of those opportunities in practice.
Taking over at Green Bay's 19, Flynn converted one fourth down and three third downs in driving the team 85 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown as time expired.
He calmly completed a 20-yard strike over the middle to tight end Joey Haynos on fourth and 1 at the Packers' 24 and then escaped from the grasp of a defender in the pocket and ran 21 yards for a first down on third and 17 at the Packers' 48.
Then on first and 10 at the Tennessee 31, he completed a 9-yard screen pass to running back Kregg Lumpkin, who failed to get out of bounds. The Packers had no timeouts left and Flynn just barely got the team to the line of scrimmage in time to spike the ball with 2 seconds left.
On the next play, he had five receivers run vertical routes. He bought time with a scramble to the right and then fired a pass into the end zone that Allen caught for a 22-yard touchdown. His attempt to send the game to overtime with a two-point conversion fell just short when receiver Johnny Quinn was able to get just one foot in bounds on a fade route.
"I'm used to that," Flynn said of the 2-minute offense. "At LSU we had a lot of games that we had to win in the fourth quarter. I have a lot of experience playing in big-time stadiums and in big games."
Flynn's other touchdown pass came after safety Tyrone Culver intercepted a pass and returned to the Titans' 12 late in the third quarter. On second down, Flynn threw a hard slant to receiver Brett Swain for a 6-yard touchdown to make it 23-15.
Brohm, meanwhile, looked hesitant at times to unload the football and when he wasn't the victim of horrible pass protection he was not sharp with his throws. He fumbled a snap and saw another ball slip out of his hands.
Brohm's longest drive of the exhibition season was 45 yards and it ended with a missed field goal. Four times he led possession inside opponent territory, but his only score came on a four-play, 2-yard drive that was set up by Jordy Nelson's 56-yard kickoff return against San Francisco. :magnifyglass: