GREEN BAY - Brett Hundley was in his usual upbeat mood Saturday morning inside the Green Bay Packers' locker room, discussing a second ankle injury that threatens to derail his preseason.
Entering his first year as primary backup behind Aaron Rodgers, Hundley was expected to play extensively this preseason. He missed the Packers' preseason opener with a left ankle injury, and hobbled away from Thursday night’s exhibition after 21 snaps with the same injury.
Now Hundley’s availability for Friday's exhibition in San Francisco is in serious doubt.
“I think Brett will be hard-pressed to do anything this week,” coach Mike McCarthy said Saturday. “I don’t see him playing against San Francisco.”
Hundley, a fifth-round pick last year, needs preseason snaps to further his development. If all goes according to plan in the fall, preseason exhibitions are the only meaningful snaps Hundley will play in his second season.
He exited Thursday’s game after completing a 31-yard pass to receiver Davante Adams on the right sideline. It was an impressive throw – most of his throws have been – especially because of how he stood in the pocket with an oncoming rush.
From Hundley’s blindside, Oakland Raiders All-Pro Khalil Mack beat Packers rookie left tackle Jason Spriggs. Mack hit Hundley low as he released the pass, a play that has been a new point of emphasis for NFL officials this season. This time, no flag was thrown.
“It’s hard to talk about those things,” Hundley said after being asked Saturday if Mack should’ve been penalized. “After watching the film, I guess that’s the emphasis this year. You know, I’ll have to watch it and see if it should have been emphasized a little bit more.”
Hundley was impressive against the Raiders. He led a 14-play, 76-yard opening drive for touchdown, a series that started with his 13-yard completion to fullback Aaron Ripkowski.
Hundley was scheduled to play the entire first half, same as Raiders starter Derek Carr. Instead, he exited with more than 13 minutes left in the second quarter. Hundley completed 5 of 7 passes for 67 yards and a 101.5 rating.
Hundley said he is not concerned about the ankle injury’s timing stunting his development.
“I’m developing every day,” Hundley said. “It’s not that you get any less development. You’re taking mental reps. You’re taking everything you have to.”
Hundley also has impressed in practice, specifically with his management of the offense. He can make all the throws, but also has shown a knack for using his hard cadence to draw defenders offside.
Regardless, practice can’t duplicate live game snaps, especially for a young quarterback. Even if Hundley returns for the Packers' preseason finale, he’s unlikely to play against the Kansas City Chiefs' starters. Key players are traditionally held out of final preseason exhibitions.
It’s an opportunity missed for a young, developing quarterback.
“You’re stating the obvious,” McCarthy said Thursday night. “He’s a young player, a second-year player. There’s an opportunity to be our No. 2 quarterback. So, yeah, these are valuable reps. Injuries are part of the game.”
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