“The best advice I can give anyone is to believe in yourself,” former Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback Kurt Benkert announced on Twitter after signing with the Green Bay Packers on Saturday, May 15.
Benkert, 25, was one of three players and two quarterbacks to try out for the Packers during the team’s rookie minicamp this past week. He beat out 2017 seventh-round pick Chad Kelly for the final spot on Green Bay’s 90-man offseason roster.
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No 2020 Preseason Likely Hurt Benkert’s Chances
Benkert had been on the Falcons practice squad for the past three seasons before being released at the end of the 2020 season. During his time in Atlanta, Benkert was considered the Falcons’ third-string signal-caller behind starter Matt Ryan and veteran backup Matt Schaub.
He never really got a chance to showcase his talents in Atlanta, especially without a preseason last year. The year before that, the Virginia product got a shot but suffered a toe injury in the team’s 2019 preseason opener that knocked him out for the season.
Prior to the injury, Benkert made quite the impression during the Falcons’ 12-10 preseason loss to Denver. He even outplayed Broncos then-rookie second-rounder Drew Lock, leading the offense to all 10 of its points while throwing for 185 yards and one touchdown pass.
The Falcons lost out on a quality backup at low cost, and without a 2020 preseason, it most definitely hurt him since coaches weren’t able to get a real feel for him. Atlanta did have a handful of intrasquad scrimmages at practice, but the energy and defensive pressure in a scrimmage versus that of a live matchup are not the same.
Toward the end of the Falcons’ poor 2020 season, some fans begged the club on Twitter to give Benkert a chance to start, but interim head coach Raheem Morris never did.
If Benkert sticks on the Packers roster this offseason, it will likely be on the practice squad as Green Bay currently has Aaron Rodgers, 2020 first-rounder Jordan Love and new signee Blake Bortles under contract. However, Rodgers’ future with the club remains to be seen after
Benkert Has Overcome Multiple Season-Ending Injuries
Benkert’s 2019 foot injury was not the first season-ending setback for him, and it wasn’t the worst either.
Prior to transferring to the University of Virginia in 2016, Benkert was set to take the quarterback reins from East Carolina University record-setter Shane Carden. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL one week before the 2015 season opener — an injury that would alter his career path entirely.
Through both injuries, Benkert continued to stay positive during the recovery process.
“The one in college was the hardest one because there’s so much uncertainty as a college player, you don’t know,” Benkert told Heavy.com in March 2020. “Is this going to affect me getting into the NFL? How are people going to view me? You start thinking to yourself, are you injury prone? That was kind of just a freak injury.
“The one in the preseason (2019) I got tackled wrong and there was nothing I could do. But a non-contact injury (ACL) is a little scary. But knock on wood I haven’t had anything like that happen since so it’s been good to kind of get over that hump. I know that if I get injured again later on down the line, I’m going to overcome it. So it’s not like it’s the end of the world. It was hard when I was young though.”
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