GREEN BAY — The mystery is solved: Brett Hundley’s in-game gum-chomping began when he arrived in the NFL, and the Green Bay Packers new starting quarterback is going through nearly a pack a game.
And his brands of choice? Juicy Fruit or Extra.
“It’s been Extra lately,” Hundley said Wednesday, as the Packers got ready for Sunday’s game at Chicago — Hundley’s third start in place of an injured Aaron Rodgers.
If there’s one quirk fans have noticed about Hundley since he took over following Rodgers’ right collarbone injury Oct. 15 at Minnesota, it’s that he seems to be constantly chewing gum. It turns out Hundley goes through six pieces of the stuff each game — “Usually it’s like three pieces in the first half, three pieces in the second half,” he said — and it serves two purposes: To calm his nerves, and as a de facto mouthpiece.
Many NFL quarterbacks — including Rodgers — don’t wear mouthguards because they want to be able to enunciate calls at the line of scrimmage. Hundley wore a mouthpiece in college at UCLA but learned from Rodgers upon his arrival in 2015 that he might be better off without one in the NFL. That led to the gum-chewing.
“It has gotten worse and worse over these past couple of years,” Hundley said. “They don’t wear mouthpieces here, I guess, so I didn’t wear a mouthpiece. I threw some gum in, and it stuck.”
Hundley joked that he hasn’t quite reached the level of Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who he called a “really hard gum chewer.”
“I hope I don’t get there,” Hundley said.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy rolled his eyes when asked about Hundley’s unusual habit and said it’s not an issue.
“I’m not worried about it, no,” McCarthy said.
Put your nose down
McCarthy was irritated with what he described as defensive tackle Mike Daniels’ “boneheaded” penalty on Monday night.
But McCarthy wasn’t exactly thrilled with the things Daniels said two days earlier, either, and that’s why McCarthy wants his players to be more about actions than words as they look to break their three-game losing streak.
“I’ll just say this about Mike and definitely what he said Saturday: Frankly, I wasn’t even aware of it until after the game, and then obviously to have a penalty like that (is not good). I said to him, just like I told the whole team: They need to put their nose down,” McCarthy said.
“I’m not really interested in any talking right now. We need to play better. We need to coach better. We need to play better. We need to get the practice to show up on Sunday for four quarters, and it’s in the details. We need to focus on the details.”
Daniels said Saturday that after seeing Rodgers and wide receiver Davante Adams (concussion against Chicago) go down against NFC North opponents that the Packers defense needed to “deliver some blows” against their division rivals.
“We’ve had two division games, and we’ve had a guy get knocked out in each game,” Daniels said. “I’m like, ‘When are we going to retaliate?’ I’m not saying knock anybody out, but I’m saying make opposing offenses ... not too excited about having to line up across from us.
“That’s a rivalry game. These guys come in with bad intentions and bad blood against us. ... We’ve got to deliver some blows ourselves. Not saying knock people out but we need to let them know we’re here, let them know we mean business.”Later, Daniels said the Lions’ defenses under ex-head coach Jim Schwartz were “the complete opposite of us. They were really mean and tough and they would give us struggles. They got after us. That would really grind my gears quite a bit because I said, ‘We need to be like that.’”
Daniels was flagged for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty in the first quarter for head-butting center Travis Swanson during the Lions’ first touchdown drive. The penalty came after the defense had seemingly forced a punt when Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s deep pass to wide receiver Golden Tate on third-and-14 was out of bounds and incomplete.
The penalty gave the Lions a first down and they eventually scored a touchdown. Daniels said after the game it was a “dumb (expletive)” penalty.
“That was a big play in the game, big play in the start of the game,” McCarthy said. “Totally unnecessary.”
Versatile backup Justin McCray, who injured his right ankle on the final play of the game Monday night, was able to practice Wednesday and McCarthy was hopeful that he’ll be able to start in place of Bryan Bulaga, who tore the ACL in his right knee against the Lions and is done for the year. … Linebackers Ahmad Brooks (back) and Joe Thomas (ankle) returned to practice on a limited basis. … Outside linebacker Nick Perry (foot) was limited.