Packers backup QB Scott Tolzien should resemble Aaron Rodgers  

"It should look the same as Aaron," Packers QB coach Alex Van Pelt said of Scott Tolzein. "That's where he is now in the system. He's seen this operation." Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If you haven't seen Scott Tolzien run the Green Bay Packers offense since last summer -- and really, the only way you would is if you've seen an offseason practice -- the backup quarterback should look quite a bit different.

But don't be surprised if he reminds you of someone else.

At least that's what his position coach, Alex Van Pelt, is looking for when Tolzien relieves Aaron Rodgers early in Thursday's preseason opener against the New England Patriots.

"It should look the same as Aaron," Van Pelt said. "That's where he is now in the system. He's seen this operation."

It's not that Van Pelt expects Tolzien to play exactly like the reigning NFL MVP, but he believes that after his second full offseason with the Packers, Tolzien's ability to manage the game should resemble the way Rodgers does it.

"Just probably his control of the offense, being comfortable running the system," Van Pelt said when asked how Tolzien will look different than he did last preseason. "I think they will see that, and I expect to see that. Him going out and running it."

And that, perhaps more than anything, is why general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy felt comfortable going into this season with Tolzien as their No. 2 quarterback. They weren't at that point last year, even though Tolzien played well at times in the preseason, so they stuck with Matt Flynn as Rodgers' primary backup and kept Tolzien as their often-inactive third quarterback.

This time around, they felt Tolzien was ready. Thompson gave him a one-year, $1.35 million contract and opted not to re-sign Flynn.

Judging backup quarterbacks might be one of the toughest things in football because their opportunities are so few. So what does Thompson need to see from Tolzien in the preseason?

"Well, just go about his business, manage the team, manage the huddle, get in, get out, do the stuff the coaches ask, be a leader," Thompson said. "That position, in the second chair, during the course of the season, you're not in a position to lead as much. But in the preseason, that second-chair guy is pretty high up on the totem pole in terms of leadership."

Tolzien's education and improvement was two-fold. In addition to his increased understanding of McCarthy's offense, Tolzien revamped his footwork and throwing motion this offseason.

"The thing I've noticed more than anything this year is the accuracy," Van Pelt said. "The location of the throws are right on the money. He's making the tight throws and throwing into tight coverage to the right shoulder and things like that. That's what's stood out to me so far."

It has shown in practice, for example, when he hit Myles White for a 36-yard touchdown pass to lead the No. 2 offense to a win in the two-minute drill last week.

Now, it's time for Tolzien to show that off in a game.

"First and foremost, you're trying to prove it to yourself," Tolzien said. "But really I don't think you want to blow the game out of proportion. It's just a game, and you want to trust the preparation that you put in and ultimately on game day have fun and enjoy the work that you've put in."