After missing almost two weeks with an injured ankle, Brett Hundley’s preseason debut barely lasted one quarter.
With two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers being a healthy scratch for the second consecutive preseason game, Hundley made his preseason debut in Thursday night’s preseason game against Oakland. Hundley led the Packers to an opening touchdown but reinjured his left ankle early in the second quarter when he was dropped by Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter for a meaningless preseason game. Green Bay’s defense turned in another strong performance in a 20-12 victory over the Raiders. It allowed 187 yards and forced two turnovers.
However, depending on the extent of the injury, it’s possible the Packers will be heading into the regular season with Joe Callahan, an undrafted rookie from Division III Wesley, as Rodgers’ backup. After the game, however, McCarthy struck an optimistic tone, saying this injury isn't as bad as the original.
Green Bay struck on its opening drive, with Eddie Lacy running nine times for 45 yards, capped by his 1-yard touchdown on third-and-goal. Lacy got the drive rolling with a 20-yard run in which the left side of the line of David Bakhtiari and Josh Sitton, plus center J.C. Tretter and fullback Aaron Ripkowski, opened a massive hole. Lacy converted a third-and-2 when right guard T.J. Lang blocked two defenders, and Hundley converted a third-and-4 with a 6-yard completion to Davante Adams.
“A big part of our emphasis is running the football and to stop the run,” coach Mike McCarthy said in halftime quotes provided by the team. “I thought, offensively, running the football, getting out on the edge of the defense was a job well done. Eddie, I think, had nine rushes that series. It's the same thing with our defense. Our defense came off the field and stopped the run. That's a starting point each and every year. I'm very pleased with what we accomplished during the first quarter.”
The Raiders responded with a 46-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr played the entire first half, going 9-of-13 for just 38 yards and one interception by Green Bay cornerback Damarious Randall. The Green Bay defense limited Carr to a passer rating of 40.2 and held the Raiders to just 73 yards.
The Packers drove 80 yards with the opening possession of the second half to extend their lead to 14-3. As much as Callahan struggled in the second quarter, he was dynamite on the scoring drive with his arm and his legs. Also providing some dynamite was running back John Crockett, who solidified his hold on the No. 3 job. He opened the drive with a 10-yard run, caught a pass for 12 as Callahan extended the play, then scored on a 10-yard run. On the touchdown, he plowed through several defenders for the final 5 yards, with center Don Barclay, who had a key lead block, providing a helping hand near the goal line.
The Packers extended the lead to 17-3 on the ensuing possession, triggered by rookie Trevor Davis’ 21-yard punt return in which he ran through two tackle attempts. Crockett gained 11 on a third-and-6 screen and rookie Brandon Burks ran for 16 before the drive stalled and ended with Mason Crosby’s 26-yard field goal.
Giorgio Tavecchio, who challenged Crosby for the kicking job in 2013, booted a 28-yard field goal to cut the margin to 17-6. Tavecchio, however, missed an extra point after the Raiders scored on a blocked punt with about 3 minutes remaining in regulation. That touchdown trimmed the score to 20-12.
That’s just a side note because, for the second consecutive preseason game, Green Bay’s defense was the best unit on the field. Rookie cornerback Josh Hawkins’ interception and 47-yard return set up the Packers for another score in the fourth quarter, a 34-yard field goal by Crosby that made it 20-6 with 6:23 remaining.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.null