GREEN BAY – There’s value in seeing things, not just in doing them.
That’s one lesson Packers backup quarterback Brett Hundley is taking from his second NFL season.
It didn’t go as planned, beginning with an ankle injury that sidelined him for all but a couple dozen snaps in the preseason. The regular season wasn’t going to serve as Hundley’s playground unless disaster struck with Aaron Rodgers, but those preseason games were supposed to be his building blocks coming off a promising rookie year.
For a quarterback who plans on starting someday, somewhere in the NFL, though, Hundley still absorbed a lot through the 2016 season as he settled into his backup and scout-team role.
Specifically, he observed what a quarterback’s leadership meant for a team that went through some tough times.
“It’s been a blessing for me just to learn this year, learn from Aaron, understand the ups and downs,” Hundley said last week as he cleaned out his locker. “From 4-6 to the NFC Championship, that’s stuff sometimes if you don’t see it, when it happens you don’t know how to respond, and seeing all that stuff this year gives you calm, so when you’re in those situations, you’re not stressing or worried.
“You’ve seen what it takes. You’ve seen what you need as a team to bounce back.”
Hundley pays attention to every detail, so it’s no surprise the former fifth-round pick from UCLA was watching Rodgers off the field as closely as on it.
How he remained confident in his teammates when things weren’t going well. How he stuck to his preparation routine. How he accepted the burden a star quarterback carries to turn a team’s fortunes around.
Those are lessons Hundley hopes to apply when he’s a No. 1 signal caller at some point in his career, and he took them all in, which helped make up for the absence of the on-field work he was hoping to get over the summer.
“Obviously, in your mind you want it this way – you want a breakout performance in the preseason, you want to get in in the regular season and have another breakout performance,” Hundley said. “But God has a way with everything.”
That’s not to say his game didn’t get some work, though. Another way he has learned from Rodgers is bringing intense competitiveness to his scout-team work. Rodgers’ famous “belt” celebration originated after successful plays while running the scout team behind Hall of Famer Brett Favre.
Hundley didn’t mention any practice antics of his own, but whether he was pretending to be Eli Manning, Dak Prescott or Matt Ryan, he played those snaps with as much gusto as Rodgers used to.
Navigating a series of plays with a Pro Bowl safety in Ha Ha Clinton-Dix staring across at him and pass-rushers like Clay Matthews and Nick Perry trying to chase him down was a challenge he relished daily.
“I may not have gotten the chance to compete on the field, but I for sure competed in practice each and every day,” Hundley said. “You’re not getting the game reps, not getting the practice reps of your own plays, so you have to take whatever you get seriously, to the best of your ability.
“The whole scout-team offense had a mindset that it may have ‘scout’ in front of our name, but at the same time we’re going to go out there and try to kick the defense’s (rear) every day.”
He wants to get back to doing that against an actual opponent again next summer. His third preseason will in essence be his second, and if there’s any way to make up for lost time, Hundley will find it.
“I’m ready to play,” he said. “In the (2016) preseason, I only got a couple of snaps, so I’ll have a totally different focus this preseason. I’m ready to play. That’s the message I’m going to keep saying.
“I want to play, and when I get back on that field, there’s a lot to be said for not playing this long. I want to get out there.”