Micah Abernathy has short time to make Packers roster, but he took big steps on Friday
GREEN BAY - Micah Abernathy has been with the Green Bay Packers for only eight days.
In that short time, he’s come in early, stayed late, spent what little free time he could find at home on his tablet learning the playbook, doing everything he could to take what little time was given to him and prove he’s worthy of more.
On Friday night, as the Packers defeated the New Orleans Saints, 20-10, in their second preseason game, Abernathy did just that.
“I feel like I showed I can play fast and I feel like I have a lot left in me," the first-year safety said. "I feel like I’m in shape and I can play and I just wanted to go out there and prove that and I feel like I did, hopefully.”
Abernathy was signed Aug. 10, a training camp body for all intents and purposes, after starter Darnell Savage and backup Innis Gaines both suffered hamstring injuries on Aug. 5 at Family Night.
When Dallin Leavitt went down with a shoulder injury in the Packers' first preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, the safety unit got a little thinner. And on Friday night when Vernon Scott, the safety who’d seen the biggest increase in snaps with Savage’s injury, left the game with an upper-body injury, the door opened even wider for Abernathy.
“You don’t really want any guys to get hurt," Abernathy said. "That’s not what you’re hoping for. But you just try to make the most of your opportunities. I was able to play more tonight because of injuries. So just try to make the most of it.”
Abernathy’s first big play of the night came when he intercepted Saints quarterback Ian Book. With less than a minute to play in the second quarter, Book and the Saints were on the Packers side of the field. Book rolled left, targeting tight end Taysom Hill 11 yards downfield near the sideline. Hill fell and Abernathy, while tripping over the 6-2 Hill, scooped the ball in mid-air and fell forward in-bounds for the pick.
“Actually, my coaches called it out. Coach (Jerry) Gray called it out from the sidelines,” Abernathy said. “We actually got that play this week. I got that same play this week and I didn’t make it in practice. So I just try to go out there and make the catch … I didn’t know if I was (in-bounds) but I was gonna act like I was.”
Midway through the third quarter, Abernathy flashed his speed and power. Playing near the line, the safety read a swing pass to the running back from the start. By the time Tony Jones Jr. made the catch, Abernathy was there to swarm him for a 5-yard loss.
“It was just play recognition really," Abernathy said. "I feel like that’s a good part of my game. I can really think critically when I need to and I could see the running back sliding out and I could see the big lineman, I didn’t want them to touch me, so I had to slide under them and be as fast as possible, and just make the play.”
The 25-year old safety who played his college ball at Tennessee, spent the past few months playing in the USFL. The developmental league helped Abernathy stay in football shape, which is what he largely credits for his ability to make an immediate impact with the Packers.
“It’s definitely crazy, but it’s what I prayed for," he said. "So I’m happy for the opportunity the Packers have given me. I was happy for the opportunity to play in the USFL. I’m just grateful and I gotta thank God for it.”
The Packers have another wave of cutdowns coming in the next few days. They must lose five players by Tuesday. With the opportunity in front of him and the plays to prove his worth, Abernathy is using his short time in Green Bay to show the Packers he’s a name worth keeping.