In the NFL, if you’re going to make a roster, you need to take advantage of your opportunities — both the expected and unexpected ones. That’s exactly what young safety Micah Abernathy did last Friday for the Green Bay Packers in their second preseason game against the New Orleans Saints.
When Vernon Scott left the game with an injury, Abernathy was the next man up. Just a few plays later, he delivered a jolt of energy to the Packers, intercepting a pass from Ian Book and making a statement that he deserves serious consideration for a roster spot.
It has been a long road for Abernathy, who played in the USFL this summer and the XFL back in 2020 after finishing his college career at the University of Tennessee after the 2018 season. Now he has his best shot at an NFL career after signing with the Packers just nine days prior to last week’s game.
Here’s a look at the Packers’ playing time numbers from Friday’s second preseason contest.
OFFENSE (63 TOTAL PLAYS)
Jordan Love 57, Danny Etling 6
What a game it was for Jordan Love, even if his final stat line won’t show his truly impressive performance (12/24, 113 yards, 1 TD). Outside of perhaps one drive, Love looked comfortable in the pocket and was both decisive and accurate with his passes throughout the game. Unfortunately, his receivers failed him on several occasions with dropped passes, notably two from Romeo Doubs and one from Amari Rodgers.
Etling played only one substantive drive but he provided a fun highlight, scampering 51 yards for a touchdown on a read-option. Three of his six snaps later went as kneel-downs to end the game.
Tyler Goodson 32, Patrick Taylor 18, Dexter Williams 13
The top two backs were flipped from last week, with Taylor getting the start against the Saints after Goodson started the week before. This time, Goodson was able to break off a few big runs, going for 42 yards on 10 carries with a long of 15 and picking up ten yards on one reception. Taylor gained 27 yards on 8 carries, while Williams provided 24 yards on five attempts.
Taylor’s only pass target was a broken play on third down and goal, when he tried to make an acrobatic catch on the sideline. After a wild scramble, Love put the football in a position where only Taylor had a shot at it, and a more natural receiver might well have pulled it in for a ridiculous touchdown.
Amari Rodgers 46, Juwann Winfree 44, Samori Toure 33, Romeo Doubs 29, Travis Fulgham 11, Ishmael Hyman 9
Doubs increased his team-leading target share to a total of 12 over two games, seeing five passes and catching three of them for 24 yards and a score. His touchdown was a thing of beauty as he went up and over a Saints cornerback for an acrobatic leaping catch on a goal line fade. He had his mistakes again, however, with another straight drop and a mistake in tracking an early deep ball from Love; the latter might have been a miscommunication, as Doubs looked over the wrong shoulder coming out of his break. Still, if he can clean up his mistakes, the positive flashes are truly thrilling.
A week after giving Winfree some slot and motion reps, the Packers featured Rodgers much more in that area in this game. He only ended up catching two of five targets for five yards, though he added 15 yards on the ground on a pair of carries. Rodgers had one of the drops that cost Love, that coming on an exceptional throw over the middle between defenders that was initially ruled a catch but was ruled incomplete on review.
Winfree led the team overall in receiving with 41 yards on three receptions/six targets. Toure’s lone target was perhaps the best ball that Love threw all game long, a deep pass up the left sideline that led the rookie receiver perfectly. Unfortunately, he could not haul in the slick ball in the rain.
Alize Mack 30, Tyler Davis 24, Josiah Deguara 12, Nate Becker 9, Sal Cannella 5
Another week, another abysmal performance for Davis, who seems to be working his way off the roster. Last week he had a drop that went for an interception; this week, his only catch over the middle should have started a two-minute drill drive, but he was stripped of the football for a fumble. He also committed a holding penalty that erased a beautiful 17-yard completion from Love to Doubs early in the second quarter.
Despite leading the team in snaps, however, Mack has yet to make any impact as a receiver, as he did not see a single target in the game. Instead, Cannella had one catch for 13 yards and Becker had one grab for two, the latter primarily lining up in the backfield as a fullback.
Jake Hanson 57, Cole Van Lanen 46, Zach Tom 40, Yosh Nijman 36, Royce Newman 36, Sean Rhyan 27, Caleb Jones 27, Josh Myers 17, Jon Runyan, Jr. 17, Michael Menet 6, Ty Clary 6
The first-team offensive line was the usual group, consisting of Nijman, Runyan, Myers, Hanson, and Newman. After a few series, the group got a shakeup as the second group of Nijman, Van Lanen, Hanson, Newman, and Tom took the field.
Tom continues to look excellent at tackle, with his quick feet allowing him to mirror opposing pass-rushers. He may still have issues with play strength if facing elite opponents, but his athleticism is already paying dividends. Rhyan looked a bit better in this game as the next option at right guard, but he still appears to be a work in progress.
One of the more pleasant surprises in this game was the play of Caleb Jones, who entered at left tackle for the second half. The 6-foot-9, 370-pound Jones looked surprisingly spry for a player of his size as he did a solid job in pass protection.
DEFENSE (63 TOTAL PLAYS)
Chris Slayton 45, Jack Helfin 39, Jonathan Ford 29, Devonte Wyatt 26, T.J. Slaton 13
The Packers got their first look at Wyatt after he sat out the preseason opener, and he looked mostly fine, recording a pair of tackles and occasionally flashing his trademark quickness. Heflin had another impressive game, drawing penalties and generally making life difficult for the interior of the Saints’ line. He has to be in the lead for the DL6 spot, if the Packers keep that many.
Once again, Slaton has looked like the most impressive player among this group, though. It was only a handful of early snaps for him, but he is consistently explosive and impactful on the interior and is learning to disengage from blockers well.
JJ Enagbare 34, Kobe Jones 28, LaDarius Hamilton 24, Tipa Galeai 22, Chauncey Manac 15, Jonathan Garvin 7
Enagbare again led the edge group in snaps, but he’s also providing some decent pass rush. In total, this group struggled to get much pressure on Ian Book and Enagbare only finished the game with a single assisted tackle, but he’s one of only a few players who came near Book all game long from this group. Indeed, he has been one of the more productive rookie pass-rushers so far this preseason:
Rookie EDGE total pressures after 2 Preseason games.— Jacob Morley (@JacobMorley) August 22, 2022
1. Keir Thomas: 8
2. Kingsley Enagbare: 7
3. De'Shaan Dixon: 6
3. David Anenih:6
5. George Karlaftis: 5
Outside of Enagbare, there was virtually nothing to report from this group in this game. Hamilton ended up with the only QB hit from the position. Galeai was the unfortunate victim of a matchup problem on the Saints’ only touchdown, caught out of position covering rookie receiver Chris Olave in the slot.
Ray Wilborn 33, Ty Summers 32, Isaiah McDuffie 24, Krys Barnes 19, Quay Walker 12
Wilborn recorded the only sack of the game for the Packers, that coming as he ran Book out of bounds for no gain on a scramble. While he played pretty well defensively, it was McDuffie who starred in the first half. He looks like a completely different player compared to last summer and appears to have a clear hold on the ILB3 job and a roster spot. His six tackles were one behind Wilborn for the team lead. Summers got a ton of playing time in the second half and continues to prove that he does not belong on the field on defense, missing tackles with regularity.
Shawn Davis 48, Micah Abernathy 40, Vernon Scott 23, De’Vondre Cross 15
The Packers suffered a significant loss late in the first half as Scott left the field with an apparent shoulder or upper arm injury. If that injury is to a pectoral or biceps muscle, his season might be over. Enter Abernathy, who immediately stepped up with a great interception of Book along the sideline. He would later close for a five-yard loss on the only other pass target into his coverage and is suddenly very much in the mix for a roster spot given all the injuries at the position.
Davis also looked solid in this game, as he finished with five tackles, one for a loss, and a fumble recovery on a blown snap.
Shemar Jean-Charles 52, Kiondre Thomas 45, Rico Gafford 35, Kabion Ento 21, Keisean Nixon 12
Jean-Charles moved around all over on Friday, playing both on the outside and in the slot. His highlight came early, when he knocked down a single pass twice on the same play. He was inexplicably called for pass interference on the play, a call that will hopefully not be made in the regular season. In general, this group continued to look good, giving the Saints’ second- and third-string receivers little to nothing to work with. Indeed, players at the wide receiver position caught just six passes for 50 yards in the game.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Summers 18, Abernathy 14, Kobe Jones 14, Wilborn 13, Thomas 13, Ento 12, Toure 12, Mack 11, Enagbare 10, Goodson 10