GREEN BAY — Micah Abernathy has only been with the Green Bay Packers for eight days.
In that short time he came in early, stayed late, spent what little free time he could find at home on his tablet learning the script, and did everything he could to make the little time given to him. and prove that it is worth more.
On Friday night, when the Packers defeated the New Orleans Saints 20-10 in their second preseason game, Abernathy did just that.
“I feel like I’ve shown that I can play fast and I feel I still have a lot in me,” said the freshman safety. “I feel like I’m in shape and can play and I just wanted to go out there and prove that and I feel like I did, hopefully.”
Abernathy was signed on August 10, an all-purpose training camp, after starter Darnell Savage and backup Innis Gaines both suffered hamstring injuries on August 5 during Family Night.
When Dallin Leavitt came down with a shoulder injury in the Packers’ first preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, the security unit thinned a bit. And on Friday night, when Vernon Scott, the safety who had seen the biggest increase in snaps with Savage’s injury, left the game with an upper body injury, the door opened even wider for Abernathy.
“You really don’t want boys to get hurt,” Abernathy said. “That’s not what you hope for. But you’re just trying to make the most of your opportunities. Due to injuries I was able to play more tonight. So try to make the best of it.”
Abernathy’s first big play of the night came when he intercepted Saint’s quarterback Ian Book. With less than a minute to play into the second quarter, Book and the Saints were on the Packers side of the field. Book rolled to the left, targeting tight end Taysom Hill, 11 yards away near the sideline. Hill fell and Abernathy, tripping over the 6-2 Hill, scooped the ball into the air and fell forward for the pick.
“Actually, my coaches called it out. Coach (Jerry) Gray called it out from the sidelines,” Abernathy said. “We actually got that game this week. I got that same game this week and I didn’t make it in practice. So I’m just trying to get out there and make the catch… I didn’t know if I could (within the limits) was, but I would pretend I was.
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Midway through the third quarter, Abernathy showed his speed and strength. Playing near the line, the safety read a swing pass to the running back from the start. By the time Tony Jones Jr. made the catch, Abernathy was there to swarm him for a 5-yard loss.
“It was really just game recognition,” Abernathy said. “I feel like that’s a good part of my game. I can really think critically when I need to and I could see the running back slide out and I could see the big lineman, I didn’t want them to touch me , so I had to slide under them and be as fast as possible, and just make the game.”
The 25-year-old safety who played his college ball in Tennessee has been playing in the USFL for the past few months. The development league helped Abernathy stay in football form, which he attributes in large part to his ability to make an immediate impression with the Packers.
“It’s absolutely crazy, but I prayed for that,” he said. “So I’m happy for the opportunity the Packers gave me. I was happy for the chance to play in the USFL. I’m just thankful and I have to thank God for that.”
The Packers will face another wave of budget cuts in the coming days. They have to lose five players on Tuesday. With the opportunity ahead and the plays to prove his worth, Abernathy uses his short time in Green Bay to show the Packers that he is a name worth preserving.
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