GREEN BAY – Micah Abernathy was with the Green Bay Packers for only 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 playbook, doing everything he could to take the little time he was given and prove himself worthy by more
On Friday night, as the Packers defeated the New Orleans Saints, 20-10, in their second preseason game, Abernathy did just that.
“I feel like I showed I can play fast and I feel like I have a lot left in me,” the first-year safety said. “I feel like I’m fit and I can play and I just wanted to go out there and prove it and I feel like I did, hopefully.”
Abernathy was signed on Aug. 10, training camp for all intents and purposes, after starter Darnell Savage and backup Innis Gaines both suffered minor injuries on Aug. 5 at Family Night.
When Dallin Leavitt went down with a shoulder injury in the Packers’ first preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, the safety unit got a little thin. And on Friday night when Vernon Scott, the safety who saw 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 any guys to get hurt,” Abernathy said. “It’s not what you hope for. But you just try to take advantage of your opportunities. I was able to play more tonight because of injuries. So just 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 to play in the second quarter, Book and the Saints were on the Packers side of the field. Book rolled left, targeting tight end Taysom Hill 11 yards downfield near the sideline. Hill dropped and Abernathy, tripping over the 6-2 Hill, caught the ball in midair and fell forward inbounds for the pick.
“Actually, my coaches called it. Coach (Jerry) Gray called it from the sidelines,” Abernathy said. “We actually got that play this week. I got that same play this week and I didn’t do it in practice. So I’m just trying to go out there and make the catch … I didn’t know if I was (inside-out) but I was going to act like I was.”
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Midway through the third quarter, Abernathy flashed his speed and power. 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 just game recognition really,” 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 quick as possible, and just make the play.”
The 25-year-old safety, who played his college ball at Tennessee, has spent the last few months playing in the USFL. The developmental league helped Abernathy stay in football shape, which is what he largely credits for his ability to make an immediate impact with the Packers.
“It’s definitely crazy, but that’s what I’ve been praying for,” he said. “So I’m happy for the opportunity the Packers gave me. I was happy for 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 have to lose five players before Tuesday. With the opportunity in front of him and the plays to prove his worth, Abernathy is using his short time in Green Bay to show the Packers that he is a name to be reckoned with.