GREEN BAY – It's the best way for a football team committed to drafting and developing talent to end the preseason: with an eye toward the future.
Rookie quarterback Brett Hundley and a bottom-half-of-the-roster lineup of young hopefuls scored a 38-10 win over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night. It ended the Packers preseason at 2-2. Now, Hundley and the reserves turn the field over to Aaron Rodgers and company, as the Packers begin a season they hope will end with a Super Bowl championship.
"Very pleased with the way we concluded the preseason. Very proud of our young players," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said following the win.
"I reflected, walking off the field, and seeing the smiles in the locker room, and thinking about how these guys improved. The football game in the second half was very impressive. Now the process starts. The next 48 hours is one of the toughest things we have to go through," McCarthy added.
The Packers must reduce their roster to 53. Defensive linemen Letroy Guion and Datone Jones will not count against the 53, as they are facing suspensions to begin the season.
The obligatory question following the preseason finale is: Are you ready to begin the season?
"Ready or not, here it comes. We'll get going on Chicago on Monday. We were able to get some preliminary work done in training camp; that's a benefit," McCarthy said.
The Packers would seem to be set at the quarterback position for the present and the future, following strong summers by Scott Tolzien and Hundley. The latter began spring drills as a quarterback in need of grooming. He exits the preseason groomed.
"Brett Hundley is a heckuva football player," said McCarthy, renowned for his work in developing quarterbacks. "I always enjoyed watching him on TV when he played at UCLA. He came here and wanted to do things right. He fully understood the opportunities in front of him. He's picked it up quickly. The last two weeks have been huge for Brett."
Hundley completed 16 of 23 passes for 246 yards, four touchdowns and a 142.4 passer rating. He completed the preseason having thrown seven touchdown passes against just one interception.
"I feel like I've put together a great preseason, and I'm just ready to keep working, keep learning. I still have a lot to learn. I've only been in the league for a couple of months, but I have a lot of faith and confidence in my ability," Hundley said.
"He has a lot to offer. We knew that when we drafted him," McCarthy said.
Myles White caught two of Hundley's four touchdown passes. Jeff Janis caught one, which gives him five touchdown catches in two preseasons. White and Janis give McCarthy depth at wide receiver that was threatened by the loss of star receiver Jordy Nelson for the season two weeks ago.
Rodgers and the Packers' starters took the night off. Two weeks ago, Rodgers proclaimed himself ready to begin the season.
What about the Packers defense?
"We haven't played them all together. We'll be ready. Everybody wants to come out of the preseason playing good football, but you have to be realistic. It takes two, three games to establish your identity," McCarthy said.