It wasn't so long ago that Brian Brohm was considered a potential top-10 draft pick and NFL franchise quarterback.
It only seems that way.
Now in his second year with the Green Bay Packers, the former Louisville star is a distant third on the depth chart to fellow second-year player Matt Flynn, who came into the league with far less name recognition but consistently looks more comfortable under center.
Brohm had a significant chance to show improvement in Saturday's preseason game against Buffalo after starter Aaron Rodgers was pulled and then getting extra playing time when Flynn hurt his shoulder in the second half. Brohm said he felt "much better" than after the first preseason game against Cleveland _ but that's not saying much, as Brohm was a miserable 3-for-10 with two interceptions against the Browns.
"I feel like I was able to establish a little bit of a rhythm out there," Brohm said. "Getting into that 2-minute atmosphere at the end of that first half I think helped. It kind of carried over when I got to go back in the game when Matt got injured."
Given the durability Rodgers showed last season, playing in all 16 games despite a painful shoulder injury, this could be a big week for Brohm.
Flynn said after Saturday's game his sprained right shoulder wasn't a "big deal" and he would have gone back in if it had been a regular-season game. The Packers generally exercise caution in bringing players back from injury. Brohm could take extra snaps in practice and play more than originally planned in Friday night's preseason game at Arizona.
Brohm was considered a potential top-10 pick going into his senior season at Louisville, but his draft stock fell and many considered him a steal when the Packers grabbed him in the second round last year. Then Brohm was soundly beaten out for the backup job by Flynn, a poised seventh-rounder from LSU who won a national championship in 2007.
At least publicly, Packers coach Mike McCarthy is remaining patient with Brohm.
"He didn't have the production that you're looking for until the last drive," McCarthy said after Saturday's game. "I thought that was big for him to go out there and he did a good job with a couple of the running game adjustments as far as which side to run the ball and also throwing the quick slant when it was there."
Brohm was 12 of 19 for 83 yards with a drive-scuttling interception Saturday, including a pair of passes batted down by defenders. Given the ball at the Bills 26-yard line on a turnover just before halftime, he couldn't cash in and the Packers settled for a field goal.
But Brohm did manage a scoring drive near the end of the game, and says he's looking beyond statistics to judge his progress.
"It's not just numbers," Brohm said. "Last week there were obviously some things I could've done better, but overall I wasn't as bad as it appeared if you looked at the stat sheet. I'm looking forward to getting in there and looking at the film and making some improvements."
And Brohm did have a few moments to build on Saturday.
On his second series in the second quarter, he threw a pair of back-to-back passes to Jordy Nelson for first downs. Then he correctly recognized that James Jones had beaten cornerback Ellis Lankster downfield, throwing deep to draw an interference penalty.
"I think Brian did some good things," Rodgers said. "When he settles down in the pocket and just trusts the offensive line, he throws the ball really well."
But with the Packers poised to score two plays later, Brohm threw way too high and was intercepted by Reggie Corner.
"I tried to force it in there a little bit," Brohm said. "Jordy was covered kind of tight, I was trying to make the perfect throw _ put some extra steam on it _ and the ball sailed on me a little bit and the cornerback was right there to make the play."
Brohm said he appreciated getting playing time with some of the Packers' first-team offense, and looks forward to more.
"It's definitely valuable to get that work and be in there with guys that have been in the trenches before," Brohm said. "It's good for me to get out there and get that experience."
And with two preseason games remaining, McCarthy insists that the Packers' backup quarterback question isn't settled.
"They're competing for a position," McCarthy said. "We've been splitting their reps all training camp. We wanted to get a good look at Brian. I thought he had some opportunities tonight that really didn't present themselves last week. Now we have quality film on both of those guys and we'll keep evaluating."