GREEN BAY – Micah Abernathy has only been with the Green Bay Packers for eight days.
In that short amount of time, he arrived early, stayed late, spent what little free time he could find at home on his tablet learning the playbook, doing whatever he could to take the little time given to him and to prove that he was worth more.
Friday evening, when The Packers beat the New Orleans Saints20-10, in their second preseason game, Abernathy did just that.
“I feel like I’ve shown that I can play fast and I feel like I have a lot left,” the freshman safety said. “I feel like I’m fit and I can play and I just wanted to get out there and prove it and I feel like I hopefully did.
Abernathy was signed Aug. 10, a training camp body for all intents and purposes, after starter Darnell Savage and backup Innis Gaines both suffered hamstring injuries Aug. 5 during family night.
When Dallin Leavitt suffered a shoulder injury in the Packers’ preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers, the safety unit thinned out 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 wider for Abernathy.
“You really don’t want guys getting hurt,” Abernathy said. “It’s not what you hope for. But you just try to make the most of your opportunities. I was able to play more tonight because of injuries. So try to make the most of it.
Abernathy’s first big play of the night came when he intercepted Saints quarterback Ian Book. With less than a minute left in the second quarter, Book and the Saints were on the side of the Packers. Book rolled to the left, targeting tight end Taysom Hill 11 yards out in the field near the sideline. Hill went down and Abernathy, while stumbling down the hill 6-2, collected the ball in the air and fell forward for the pick.
“In fact, my coaches said so. Coach (Jerry) Gray announced it from the sideline,” Abernathy said. “We actually had that game this week. I had the same game this week and didn’t make it in practice. So I’m just trying to go out there and do the hook… I didn’t know if I was (in bounds) but I was gonna act like I was.
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Midway through the third quarter, Abernathy showed his speed and power. Playing close to 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 tackle him for a 5-yard loss.
“It was really game recognition,” Abernathy said. “I feel like that’s a big part of my game. I can really think critically when I need to and I could see the running back slipping and I could see the big lineman, I didn’t want them touching me, so I had to get under them and be as quick as possible, and just make the game.
The 25-year-old safety, who played his college ball at Tennessee, has spent the past few months playing in the USFL. The development league helped Abernathy stay in football shape, which he credits in large part to his ability to make an immediate impact with the Packers.
“It’s definitely crazy, but that’s what I prayed for,” he said. “So I’m happy for the opportunity the Packers gave me. I was happy to have the opportunity to play in the USFL. I’m just grateful and I have to thank God for that.
The Packers have another wave of cuts coming in the next few days. They must lose five players by Tuesday. With the opportunity ahead of him and the games to prove his worth, Abernathy is using his short stint in Green Bay to show the Packers he’s a name to keep.