GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers’ new quarterback spent part of one training camp catching passes from Tom Brady.
With Jordan Love in the COVID protocol and Aaron Rodgers’ practice availability likely limited this week, at best, because of a broken toe, the team promoted Kurt Benkert from the practice squad and signed Danny Etling to the practice squad on Tuesday.
If Rodgers doesn’t practice on Wednesday, Benkert would run the offense and Etling would run the scout team to get the defense ready for Sunday night’s game against the Chicago Bears.
When Rodgers and Benkert were in the COVID protocol earlier in the season, the team brought back veteran Blake Bortles to have a veteran, experienced presence. This time, with Rodgers set to start against Chicago and Benkert ready to be the No. 2, the Packers elected to go with a younger quarterback.
Etling was a seventh-round draft pick by the New England Patriots in 2018. During his rookie training camp, he was the No. 3 quarterback behind Brady and Brian Hoyer. While he didn’t do much through the air – he had a woeful 52.3 passer rating – he made one of the plays of the preseason with an 86-yard touchdown run.
Etling spent his rookie season on the Patriots’ practice squad. When the team convened for training camp in July 2019, he moved to receiver.
“Everyone has a lot of different roles on this team,” Etling told reporters after a practice. “I’m no exception, so I’m excited to continue to keep trying to find a different role for myself and keep doing what the coaches ask me to do and keep learning from the leaders in front of me.”
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The experiment didn’t last long, with Etling cut midway through training camp. The Atlanta Falcons claimed him off waivers and moved him back to quarterback. He spent most of the 2019 season on Atlanta’s practice squad. His 2020 season was a lot like his 2019. He was released by the Falcons midway through training camp and claimed off waivers by Seattle, for whom he spent the 2020 season on the practice squad.
This season, he spent three weeks of training camp with the Vikings, a month in Canada with British Columbia and a two-week stint on Seattle’s practice squad. In mid-November, he spent a few days on Denver’s practice squad as a COVID replacement for Drew Lock.
Etling started his college career with two seasons at Purdue. He completed it with two seasons at LSU, where he completed 59.7 percent of his passes for 4,586 yards with 27 touchdowns vs. seven interceptions. In 2017, he was the SEC’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
His first game with LSU was the 2016 opener against Wisconsin at Lambeau Field. Brandon Harris was the Tigers’ quarterback for that game; Etling replaced him for the rest of the season.
Etling grew up playing tennis. In fourth grade, he made a deal with his mom.
“My mom didn’t want me to play football, because it was too physical,” Etling told NOLA.com in 2017. “I got to play football because I won a tennis tournament. I told my mom, if I won the tournament, I’d get to sign up for football the next day.”
He won, and now he’ll continue his journeyman career with a shot in Green Bay.
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