GREEN BAY - Brett Hundley isn’t expected to make his fourth appearance of the season Sunday against the Chicago Bears, but he wouldn’t be entering the game as a complete unknown.
After losing most of his preseason to an ankle injury, the Green Bay Packers' quarterback has seen glimpses of action in spot appearances this fall. Hundley played a season-high 11 snaps Sunday after starter Aaron Rodgers was pulled with the Packers sitting on a blowout fourth-quarter lead against the Seattle Seahawks.
It was his third appearance this season, his first with the Packers holding a lead. Hundley played four snaps apiece at Tennessee and Washington last month.
With Rodgers nursing his strained left calf muscle this week and a tight hamstring before that, Hundley has gotten a large chunk of first-team reps in practice.
“Brett Hundley has had two good weeks of practice,” McCarthy said. “He’s been able to get a lot more reps than he normally does. I thought he was throwing the ball very well, particularly Wednesday. And I thought he threw the ball well outside in the practice we had (Thursday). Which is, based on the weather report, the forecast, yesterday’s practice very similar to what we’re expecting Sunday.”
The Packers expressed confidence in Hundley should he need to replace Rodgers for any reason Sunday. While Rodgers is expected to play, extreme cold doesn’t mix well with soft-muscle injuries.
Hundley will be ready if needed, though it would significantly alter the Packers' game plan.
“Obviously you wouldn’t give him the full boat that you would give Aaron,” quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said. “As a young player, I would always want the base plays, and ones I’ve had the most reps on. I think you narrow your focus on what he feels comfortable with.”
Hundley has completed 2 of 9 passes for 22 yards this season. He hasn’t entered a game in a situation where he would be counted on to run the entire offense. The Packers led 28-3 when Rodgers was pulled Sunday.
Van Pelt said Hundley has improved throughout the season, even though most of that growth came behind the scenes.
“I thought he’s gotten better,” Van Pelt said. “He was improved from his previous snaps he took. He’ll continue to get better. This is a great experience for him when Aaron doesn’t practice, to go out there and run the offense. I thought he’s been sharp in everything we’ve asked him to do this week.”
Ben Sirmans was hired to coach Eddie Lacy. His job: whip the Packers' starting running back into shape.
But things rarely go according to plan in the NFL. Instead of guiding Lacy back to his Pro Bowl form, Sirmans has had to negotiate a revolving depth chart in his first season as the Packers running backs coach.
His biggest task has become overseeing receiver Ty Montgomery’s transition to running back. Montgomery hasn’t been in a receivers meeting for months, coach Mike McCarthy said earlier this week, meaning he has learned on a full-time basis from Sirmans.
“I don’t know if it’s because he’s a Stanford kid,” Sirmans said referencing Montgomery’s alma mater, “but he’s very, very eager to learn and asks a lot of questions. Even today, he still asks the most questions in there, because he’s trying to learn every facet of his responsibilities.”
Sirmans had no way to know Montgomery would become his biggest responsibility when he arrived in Green Bay after four seasons coaching the then-St. Louis Rams, but he wasn’t exactly new to the former Stanford receiver.
Montgomery was considered a hybrid player entering the 2015 draft, capable of lining up in the backfield or on the perimeter. Sirmans said he watched film on Montgomery coming out of college, but not as a receiver.
“When I was in St. Louis,” Sirmans said, “they wanted me to look at him as a possible third-down back. So I do recall that. Obviously, I didn’t feel like I had enough footage on him to make a great decision from that, but I do remember looking at him when he was at Stanford, when I was in St. Louis, as a guy we could potentially draft as a third-down back.”
Sirmans said he never before watched over a receiver’s position change to running back. The closest he has come, Sirmans said, was when the Rams would line up receiver Tavon Austin in the backfield.
Austin would spend time in the running back meeting room, Sirmans said, but he never became a full-time tailback.
Sirmans believes Montgomery’s history at receiver has helped him provide an important, rare dimension in an offense revolving around two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers. While Sirmans calls Montgomery “a natural runner,” he has also flourished as a pass-catching threat. Montgomery has 44 receptions for 228 yards and a touchdown this fall.
Sirmans said Montgomery’s receiving ability is “extremely valuable” at running back, allowing the Packers to put him in favorable matchups.
“I think the biggest thing he’s brought,” Sirmans said, “besides still learning some things about the running back position, is utilizing his skillset as a receiver. He has an understanding of the pass game that other guys don’t.”
It was an expensive loss for the Seahawks at Lambeau Field.
Linebacker K.J. Wright was fined $48,620 for his head-hunting shot on Green Bay Packers tight end Richard Rodgers, which drew a personal foul for unnecessary roughness. Wright's fine increased because he's a repeat offender.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was fined $18,321 for his cheap shot against Packers receiver Davante Adams. Sherman hit Adams in the back while the Packers receiver was running a downfield route.
It could have been worse for the Seahawks. Defensive end Cliff Avril was not fined for hitting right guard T.J. Lang below the belt, and cornerback Jeremy Lane wasn't fined for shoving receiver Randall Cobb on a kneel down to end first half.
The Packers were not fined for any infractions Sunday.