With Rodgers on IR, Packers backup Hundley gets another shot
GREEN BAY, Wis. — It has been a little quieter than normal in the Green Bay Packers’ locker room this week.
The perennial NFC contenders are out of the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and quarterback Aaron Rodgers is done for the season.
It will be up to backup Brett Hundley to help provide a spark over the season’s closing weeks, starting with the home finale Saturday night against the Minnesota Vikings.
“Obviously we want to make the playoffs … we want to try to get an opportunity to win a Super Bowl. This year, we came up short,” Hundley said after practice Wednesday.
“No matter the opportunity we’re still here and we’re still blessed to be able to play. This isn’t a game we’re just going to roll over.”
The Packers (7-7) placed Rodgers on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday to pave the way for Hundley’s return as the starter. The third-year quarterback went 3-4 while Rodgers recovered from a broken right collarbone.
Rodgers returned for one game, throwing for three touchdowns and three interceptions in a 31-24 loss last week to Carolina that helped seal the Packers’ fate.
Coach Mike McCarthy has said that while Rodgers didn’t suffer a setback, the move was made in the best interest of their franchise quarterback.
Now Hundley gets two more weeks to showcase his skills to other teams who might be interested in trading for a player who has improved gradually during the season.
Hundley, though, said his focus is on the present. He’s not looking at the next two weeks as a potential audition.
“There’s no point to look or worry about what’s going to happen in the future because if you do that, you miss what’s happening now,” Hundley said.
“For me, I’m just trying to make the most of this opportunity, win this game and worry about next week after this.”
He’s looking to build on a promising three previous starts, a span in which he’s had a quarterback rating of 102.9 with six touchdowns and one interception.
He helped lead the Packers to back-to-back overtime wins over Tampa Bay and Cleveland, before getting a chance to watch Rodgers again from the sideline last week at Carolina.
“The ideal way to learn is to play. So I’m hoping he builds off a lot of the good things he established the last couple games,” McCarthy said.
Rodgers is essentially reduced to being an unofficial assistant coach. The two-time NFL MVP has been helpful in meetings. He has shown some emotion in the past on the sideline, especially in the waning minutes of the overtime win over the Browns.
The mood is in contrast to the quiet in the locker room earlier in the week. Players are typically chatty on the Monday after a win, and a little more subdued after a loss.
“It’s definitely not chatty, that’s for sure. Everybody is disappointed at the beginning of the week, but we really haven’t had a lot of time to dwell on it,” McCarthy said.
“We corrected the Carolina game when we got back together, but we’re full strength and getting ready for Minnesota and everybody understands we’re playing for something different right now.”
NOTES: WR Davante Adams (concussion) did not practice after getting knocked out of the Panthers game following blindside hit by linebacker Thomas Davis . “He’s irritated, he’s angry. He wants to be out there. He’s our best perimeter player and he was knocked out of the game at a critical time … He’s irritated that he’s in this spot,” McCarthy said. … G Jahri Evans (knee), along with LBs Nick Perry (ankle/shoulder) and Clay Matthews (hamstring) also missed practice. … CB Davon House (shoulder/back) was limited in practice.