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Green Bay Packers hand ball to Brett Hundley for season

Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Hundley will make his first NFL start Sunday. And based on the way they are planning for the 2017 season, they believe he'll get every other meaningful start, too.

Sources say the Packers are not expecting star quarterback Aaron Rodgers to return this season after breaking his collarbone last Sunday. Per NFL rules, Rodgers -- who was placed on injured reserve this week -- is eligible to start practice again in six weeks and be back on the field after eight weeks.

The first game he's eligible to play would be Week 15 against the Panthers. But there are mitigating factors. The injury from a hit by Vikings defender Anthony Barr is to his throwing shoulder, he needed surgery, and it's an injury coach Mike McCarthy described as "significant."

While the Packers have left room for the caveat of everyone healing differently, they do not anticipate and are not planning for a Week 17 return similar to 2013. Adding to this belief is the Packers have two players currently on injured reserve they'd like to bring back: Offensive linemen Jason Spriggs (hamstring) and Don Barclay (ankle). Teams are only allowed to designate two for return.

That almost certainly means it's Hundley's show for the remainder of the season.

The 2015 fifth-rounder, who the Packers traded up to select, was 18 of 33 for 157 yards last week with one touchdown and three interceptions in the loss. But he's also a player the Packers have been excited about.

For instance, they had him rated far higher than the fifth rounder he was. They view him as athletic and smart, someone who gets the ball to his playmakers.

It sounded this week like Hundley had a good week of practice, which doesn't mean much except it's better than him having a bad one.

He impressed in his first preseason in 2015, completing 69 percent of his passes, but wasn't quite as proficient this year. He's not Aaron Rodgers.

But the Packers do believe he has the traits to be a starter. They like his command, his presence, his athleticism. But he also hasn't matched his performance from his first preseason, when he was playing his loosest.

As far as what he showed last Sunday, he didn't play his best but there were clear offensive line issues, as well. They didn't feel the moment was too big for him.

A high-ranking evaluator not affiliated with the Packers describes Hundley as a big athlete with good intangibles. His arm is strong enough, though there were questions about his accuracy and ability to get through his progressions in the pocket. The feeling was, he's better on the move than in the pocket.

The belief is, three years learning from Rodgers has accelerated his learning curve. That said, the evaluator thought last Sunday's game moved too fast for him but expects a better performance this week.

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