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NOTEBOOK: Lions not taking Hundley lightly

Posted Nov 4, 2017

Mike O'Hara covers all the news from Saturday’s practice including preparing for Brett Hundley, defending the run and more.

The Detroit Lions have prepared for Monday night’s road game against the Green Bay Packers as if they were facing Aaron Rodgers – or even Brett Favre – rather than  inexperienced backup Brett Hundley.

Veteran Lions have seen see how backups often exceed expectations. And what they haven’t experienced firsthand, they’ve heard about.

“Watching on film, he does some good things,” linebacker Tahir Whitehead said of Hundley. “He has a big arm. He makes the throws. He’s a young guy, but you can see that he’s made some leaps and bounds from being around Aaron Rodgers.

“I think they’re still a good team (with Hundley).” 

Hundley has done as much with his legs as with his passing arm in the two games he has played since Rodgers went out with a broken right collarbone. He has one TD run and one TD pass against four interceptions.

The classic example of a backup having a career day against the Lions was in the final game of the 2011 season. The Packers were 14-1 going into the game and had locked up the NFC North title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Matt Flynn started at quarterback while Rodgers rested for the playoffs. A seventh-round draft pick by the Packers out of LSU in 2008, Flynn had played sparingly before facing the Lions. He had one start, three TD passes and two interceptions.

Flynn threw six TD passes against the Lions to lead a 45-41 victory. Flynn started one other game for the Packers against the Lions – a 40-10 loss on Thanksgiving Day.

Whitehead became a Lion in 2012, the year after Flynn’s big game. Although he didn’t play in that game, Whitehead has heard enough for it to have made an impression.

“No matter who’s on the field, they’re in the NFL for a reason,” Whitehead said. “You have to look at it just as that.”

Deadline watching: Under NFL rules for teams playing on Monday night, the deadline for adding a player to the active roster is 4 p.m. Monday. No transactions are made on Sunday.

Run game, QB style: Rodgers is one of the NFL’s most mobile quarterbacks, and he has hurt the Lions with his legs. One notable example was in Game 3 against the Lions last season when he gained a first down on a third-down run that let the Packers run out the clock to clinch a victory. 

Rogers also uses his legs to get time to find an open receiver. In his brief experience of running the offense, Hundley is more apt to use his mobility strictly to run. He has four runs for 47 yards and a TD in the last two games.

“This guy can take off, and he’ll take off maybe a little bit sooner (than Rodgers),” said Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, comparing Hundley to Rodgers. “He can really get down the field. That’s really going to be a big challenge for us.”

Run game, rookie battle: Rookie linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin can play a role in one of the defensive keys – stopping Packers rookie running back Aaron Jones.

Reeves-Maybin has played the third-most snaps of the linebackers the last two games --27 against the Saints, 22 against the Steelers – and had a tackle for loss in both games to go with five totals tackles against the Saints and four against the Steelers.

After not touching the ball in the first four games Jones has had double-digit carries the last four games and responded with rushing totals of 49, 125, 41 and 131 yards. Jones has been described as a one-cut runner who can accelerate with speed.

“That’s exactly what he is,” Reeves-Maybin said.

Family ties: Reeves-Maybin’s rooting interest in Game 7 of the World Series was personal and stronger than for most fans. His cousin, Cameron Maybin, plays outfield for the Houston Astros, who won the World Series with a 5-1 win over the Dodgers in Game 7.

“It was great,” Reeves-Maybin said. “Great for the family. My cousin’s been chasing that for a while. It’s great to have one of those (rings) in the family.

“We’ve got to get some more.”