Newly-signed quarterback Seneca Wallace took part in his first practice in a Green Bay Packers uniform on Monday with the challenge of trying to get up to speed before the team’s season opener on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
“For me, I just got here (Sunday) night, just trying to pick up as much as I can,” said Wallace. “But they do a great job as far as providing me with the resources that I need to be able to pick up the offense as fast as I can, so I’m just going to dig into the playbook and learn as much as I can.”
Time is of the essence for Wallace, who will be tasked with backing up arguably the best quarterback in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers.
In a perfect world, the Packers won’t need Wallace to play a single snap the entire season, let alone Sunday––unless it were a blowout situation––but they have to be prepared for every eventuality, and that includes an injury to Rodgers.
“I have to lean on my experience,” said Wallace. “I’m pretty sure if something happened, God forbid, we would try to lean on some of the stuff I leaned on in the past.”
Wallace’s past includes time spent on four different NFL rosters, where he has gained a wealth of football knowledge. Starting no more than eight games in a single season, Wallace understands the duties of playing apprentice.
“Seneca Wallace has been in this league for 11 years,” said head coach Mike McCarthy. “He’s been a backup quarterback primarily his whole career. He clearly understands the role, has a lot of experience being in a lot of systems. Just talking football with him last night, I feel confident that he’ll be ready to play Sunday.”
Wallace is happy to be back in the Midwest, where his college football journey began at Iowa State. But as far as the professional game goes, Wallace spent the first seven years of his career as a member of the Seattle Seahawks with much of that period spent learning under former Packers coach Mike Holmgren.
Between his time in Seattle and then with the Cleveland Browns in 2010 and 2011, where they ran many of the same no-huddle principles as the Packers, McCarthy feels good about Wallace picking up the Xs and Os of the offensive philosophy in Titletown.
The reason Wallace landed in Green Bay to begin with, however, was the result of a failure of the organization to find an adequate backup quarterback during the offseason.
When Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman didn’t impress during training camp, the Packers tried in vain to get veteran Vince Young prepared for the No. 2 quarterback gig. All three were let go at various points over the course of the past two weeks, and the Packers were left scrambling to find a viable backup.
For a franchise that has developed young backups like Ty Detmer, Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck, Aaron Brooks and Matt Flynn during the Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers era, the current backup situation is as unstable as it’s been in decades.
Still, McCarthy isn’t saying “Sorry” for what’s transpired at the position over the past couple months.
“If it didn’t work out the way people are used to, I make no apologies for that at all,” said McCarthy. “We’re about building a football team each and every year, building a team to go win a championship. You do an evaluation where you give everybody a true opportunity, and it’s the responsibility of individuals to take advantage of those opportunities. That did not happen at certain positions.”
McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson feel as if Wallace gives the Packers the best chance to win if forced into action.
The challenge is now getting Wallace prepared for duty as soon this upcoming weekend, as the Packers face the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last season.
“It’s just trying to hone in, especially in this type of week, with a game coming up and I just got here,” said Wallce, ” just trying to take in as much as I can.”
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book “It’s Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America,” and editor of Cheesehead TV’s “Pro Football Draft Preview.” To contact Brian, email email@example.com.