'Chip' on Hundley's shoulder remains

Stu Courtney
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Remember Brett Hundley? The Green Bay Packers rookie quarterback had an unforgettable preseason finale Sept. 3, completing 16 of 23 passes for 236 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-10 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

And, like almost all rookie third-string quarterbacks in the NFL, Hundley has remained glued to the bench during the regular season.

Hundley, whom the Packers traded up to acquire in the fifth round of the draft last May, finished the preseason with a 129.7 passer rating and seven touchdowns. His statistics far surpassed those of top pick Jameis Winston, second pick Marcus Mariota and the other four quarterbacks who were drafted.

But while Winston is starting for Tampa Bay and Mariota for Tennessee, Hundley is biding his time behind Packers starter Aaron Rodgers and backup Scott Tolzien.

“He’s coming along,” Packers offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said of Hundley’s rookie learning curve. “It always starts in the classroom, and his attention to detail. He’s a tremendous note taker. He’s able to take that onto the practice field and work on his fundamentals.”

Hundley, a 6-foot-3, 226-pound Phoenix native who started every game (after redshirting as a freshman) during his three-year career at UCLA, runs the scout team during Packers practices. This week, Hundley has been playing the role of second-year Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who will test Green Bay’s defense Sunday.

“Each and every week, he does a really good job as far as making sure the defense is prepared for what they’re going to face,” Bennett said of Hundley, who set records at UCLA for passing touchdowns (75), completions (837) and total offense (11,713 yards).

Asked to appraise Hundley’s strengths, Bennett said, “The ability to make good decisions. He can make all of the throws. His ability to move in the pocket. We take great pride in QB movements. The ability to be accurate throwing on the run.”

Hundley, 22, sat down with Press-Gazette Media to discuss his rookie season with the Packers:

What’s it like just watching after starting every game and being the center of attention as a star quarterback at UCLA?

It’s for sure a different experience, but it’s one that almost every quarterback goes through when you take a step to the next level. I’m lucky to be behind the best in the league, which is Aaron Rodgers, and to be in an organization like this and to be learning. Obviously, I want to be out there. Everyone that’s here wants to contribute to the team. But right now it’s good for me to learn and just soak in all the knowledge here. …  I’m always preparing like I’m the starter, because that’s what you have to do. But come game day, I’ll be there looking at the plays, charting them and doing what I have to do to stay ready.

What’s it like being around Aaron Rodgers every day?

You just learn everything you need to about how to be a quarterback. Off the field, on the field … everything.

What’s it like in the quarterbacks room with Rodgers and  Tolzien?

It’s been really fun. They’re great guys. Aaron’s amazing, really good guy off the field, really humble. We have a really fun quarterback room. We have fun, we make ­jokes, we laugh and we sort of enjoy ourselves.

What has learning the playbook been like? Was it more complex than you imagined?

At first, yeah. When I got here, it was very detailed. But now after getting a couple of months in, you get in the groove of things and how the offense works. I feel like I have a good handle on the offense but there are subtleties that you always have to learn.

One of your roles is running the scout team twice a week during practice. What has that been like?

I take that serious. That’s my game right there. I get two games a week. I always try to emulate (the opposing quarterback) to help the defense, but I also have to be myself. I’m really trying to hone my skills and scout team is the only time I get to do that, so I try to make the most of it.

Do you feel like you got a chance during the preseason to show what kind of quarterback you can be?

Hopefully, I showed a little bit of it in the preseason, but now looking back, I feel like I could have been 10 times better if I’d been where I am now, just from the development. …. To finish up rated the No. 1 quarterback in the preseason was awesome. You can’t get any better than that. That’s something that I wanted to do and I did it. I’ve still got a lot to prove and a lot to show and I’m always working for that.

When you lasted all the way until the fifth round of the draft, you said you would be coming in with a chip on your shoulder. Do you feel like you’ve proven yourself?

I’ve done everything I wanted to up to this point. But I’m still working for a lot. I’ve still got a lot to show.

Is the chip on your shoulder still there?

I’ll always have it. After that happened … even if I hadn’t have gone in the fifth round, I’m always working.  You want to prove yourself but also you want to play for the man next to you. When they look across and see you as a quarterback, you want to make sure that they know they can trust you. I play for that and I play for the people who told me I couldn’t do it. There’s a lot of those out there that said I wouldn’t do nothing and I wouldn’t transition well to the NFL. I feel like I’ve shown what I can do from where I ended up and now it’s just get better and keep working.

— and follow him on Twitter @Stucourt

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