Brett Hundley, Packers' young WRs 'not bad' in preseason debut

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Brett Hundley didn't notice who the cornerback was in coverage on Davante Adams when he hit him in stride for a 48-yard completion on the Green Bay Packers' opening drive of the preseason.

It was former Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler.

"Ooh dang," Hundley said. "That's not bad."

Neither was Hundley's performance. Nor was DeShone Kizer's or even rookie Tim Boyle's.

And there were the rookie receivers that Aaron Rodgers ripped into last week after a substandard practice. A couple of them -- Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown -- weren't bad, either.

Maybe the Packers' offense wouldn't be a total disaster if something happened to Rodgers like it did last season when he broke his collarbone, and maybe their depth at receiver isn't as barren as it appeared early in training camp.

Yes, it was just the first preseason game -- a 31-17 win over the Tennessee Titans in which 18 players, many of them projected starters, did not dress -- but at least Hundley and Kizer showed more moxie and playmaking ability than they did last year during their respective struggles, Hundley as Rodgers' injury replacement and Kizer as Cleveland's rookie starter.

Hundley completed 9 of 14 passes for 108 yards with one touchdown (an 8-yarder to running back Jamaal Williams) and one interception (caused by right tackle Byron Bell's breakdown). More importantly, he played decisively and in rhythm -- something that escaped him too often in his nine starts last season.

"Productive. Decision-making was sound, and I thought clearly his tempo was the best of the three quarterbacks," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of Hundley.

Kizer's most impressive plays came with his feet. On one play, he avoided a hit much like the one that led to Hundley's interception and turned it into a 5-yard run. He ran three times for 18 yards. He completed just 9 of 18 passes but had a team-high 134 passing yards (including a 51-yard bomb to Valdes-Scantling) and his two series lasted 16 and 14 plays.

"To be able to come out and have the success that he was able to have got me really excited," said Kizer, who admitted he scrambled too much. "Obviously when you're in training camp, you don't do too much scrambling around. I kind of wanted to show that, but not as much as I did this week. So it's about making sure I clean up the footwork, clean up the reads and try to get the ball to the first guy [who] is open."

Boyle, an undrafted free agent, became the latest in the Packers' line of undrafted quarterbacks (see Joe Callahan, Taysom Hill) with an impressive rookie preseason showing. He threw a pair of touchdown passes, including a 52-yarder to camp sensation Jake Kumerow.

"I thought they were nice," Kumerow said of the three quarterbacks. "I don't care who is in there. I'll go with any of them. They know the plays. They know the checks. They're not afraid to take a shot."

The young receiver group seemed to take Rodgers' critical comments from earlier in the week to heart. Although Rodgers didn't name names, it was clear by process of elimination of whom he didn't praise, that the three draft picks -- J'Mon Moore (fourth round), Valdes-Scantling (fifth) and St. Brown (sixth) -- were the targets of his ire after what he called a "piss poor" period in practice.

"That's our quarterback," Valdes-Scantling said of Rodgers, who did not play. "So whenever he says we're not doing a good job, we have to own up to it and say, ‘OK, we have to be better.' Came out the next practice and we were definitely better. But you know when the leader says you've got to pick it up, that's what you do. He's one of the greatest to ever do it, so whatever he says we have to go out and do it."

The 6-foot-4 Valdes-Scantling impressed with his speed. It led to five catches for 101 yards and the touchdown. It would have been even better had he come up with another diving deep ball, but he set the bar for the rookie receivers.

The 6-5 St. Brown responded with four catches for 61 yards.

"I think everything pushes you [when Valdes-Scantling made plays], but it's better to push yourself," St. Brown said. "But yeah, I notice."

Moore was noticeable, too, but for a pair of drops. One specifically stood out -- a well-placed deep ball from Boyle in the third quarter. Moore, who came into the NFL with questions about his hands, was targeted seven times but caught just three for 27 yards.

"A rough start," a downtrodden Moore said. "My whole life has been about how you finish things. Just take it day by day and move forward. Definitely going put a fire up underneath me, so I'm going to move forward for sure, but it's definitely going to put a fire up underneath me and definitely have me dig deeper."