A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers' beat.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Maybe it's due to the fact that he played against defenses currently ranked 29th and 32nd in the NFL, but quarterback Matt Flynn has shown significant improvement in the last two games.
He's getting the ball out quicker and his completion percentage is higher.
In comeback victories over the Dallas Cowboys (who sport the league's worst defense) and the Atlanta Falcons (who rank only three spots better), Flynn had combined to complete 70.4 percent of his passes. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he has held the ball for an average of only 2.77 seconds on his dropbacks in those two games.
In his previous two games, the relief effort in the Nov. 24 tie against the Minnesota Vikings and his Thanksgiving start at the Detroit Lions, Flynn combined to complete 55.4 percent of his passes while holding the ball for an average of 3.59 seconds, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Is the difference in Flynn or the opponents? The Vikings' defense is better than only the Cowboys in the total yardage rankings, while the Lions are middling 16th.
Given that it all signs point to Flynn starting Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, it's safe to say he will face his toughest test so far this season. The Steelers' defense ranks 11th overall and eighth in passing yards per game.
“I feel like since I've been here, every week I've progressed,” Flynn said. “The more reps, the more practice, the more time I get with the guys, the more comfortable I feel. Hopefully, that carries over into the games. Hopefully, I play a little bit better each week. But right now, I feel really good about the offense.”
In case you missed it on ESPN.com:
On the day Flynn took the majority of the snaps with the starters in practice, Aaron Rodgers said he had a “good sense of what's going to happen” this week.
And that sure looks like Flynn will get the call because Rodgers still had not been cleared to return from his broken collarbone, even though coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers looked game ready to him.
The Packers also won't have defensive tackle Johnny Jolly against the Steelers and possibly for the rest of the season. The details can be found in the daily injury report.
Several players mentioned the halftime speech that backup linebacker Jamari Lattimore delivered last Sunday in Dallas, but the soft-spoken Lattimore did not want to reveal what he said.
The ESPN panel of experts is divided on its picks for the Packers-Steelers game.
At ESPNWisconsin.com, Jason Wilde wrote that when it comes to Rodgers' status, "unless McCarthy and his staff are planning the mother of all Sunday surprises, their actions this week have spoken louder than their words."
In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Mike Vandermause wrote that general manager Ted Thompson and team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie deserve credit for putting Rodgers' long-term health ahead of the short-term success of the team, and Weston Hodkiewicz put into perspective running back Eddie Lacy's streak of 242 carries since his last fumble, which came in Week 1.
In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tom Silverstein wrote that perhaps McCarthy was trying to send a message to Thompson and McKenzie that it's time to clear Rodgers.