Packers QB Joe Callahan using practice time to sharpen game
GREEN BAY – Barring any unforeseen circumstances Sunday, such as a blowout or a Brett Hundley injury, Green Bay Packers third-string quarterback Joe Callahan will go a second straight year without taking a regular-season snap.
Callahan has advanced to the official backup position because starter Aaron Rodgers is on injured reserve, but it hasn’t resulted in him getting any closer to playing time. Even with Hundley playing probably his worst game of the season last week against Minnesota, coach Mike McCarthy chose not to bench him.
Callahan said he understands why he hasn't played.
"One of the big things is consistency, and I think the Packers do a good job staying consistent," Callahan said. "Because once you start making starting (quarterback changes), then you’re messing with the entire offense. You have to stay consistent. You have to stick with your decisions."
The best Callahan has been able to do is get valuable team practice reps in the weeks that Rodgers was out with a broken collarbone. Hundley gets all the snaps with the No. 1 offense, so Callahan’s work was with the scout team.
McCarthy said Thursday that Callahan has made strides over the past couple of months because his practice time has gone up. He said what was most noticeable were the tight red-zone throws Callahan is making from the pocket.
“The team reps in a practice environment is as close as you can get to the game environment,” McCarthy said. “Just in the last five or six weeks, you can (see with) Joe, just the anticipation on a number of different things he’s really doing a nice job.
“You can tell he’s comfortable conceptually and how his footwork is tied to each and every route. His movement skills have always been a real positive for the way he plays. He’s in great shape. He’s really benefiting from all the work he’s been getting.”
Callahan, who was a record-setting quarterback at Wesley College, signed as an undrafted free agent in May 2016. He spent part of last year on the Packers’ practice squad and part of it on the 53-man roster with New Orleans and Cleveland.
This year, Callahan spent the first six weeks of the season on the practice squad and then was signed to the 53-man roster when Rodgers got hurt. The Packers cut him right before the Carolina game because they needed a roster spot, but re-signed him as soon as he cleared waivers.
Like many other quarterbacks in the Packers' system, better throwing mechanics and footwork have resulted in Callahan throwing a better pass. When asked if Callahan’s arm had gotten stronger, McCarthy said, “That’s fair.”
"Well, that’s good," Callahan said of McCarthy's comment. "I think so. I think I’ve noticed a little arm-strength improvement. I’m sure if he’s saying it, he’s definitely noticed."
McCarthy also praised Callahan's physical conditioning. When Callahan was with the Browns last year, they wanted him to bulk up from 215 pounds to 225, which he did in the little over a month he was with the team.
When he got back to Green Bay in December, Callahan began the process of shedding the weight and he is back to the 215 pounds he played at in college.
"I didn’t put on the best weight," Callahan said. "I got up to where they wanted me. I was doing what they asked."
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The Packers cut Callahan at the end of training camp, gambling that he wouldn't be claimed on waivers and would return to the practice squad. After signing him to the 53, they cut him again right before the Packers were getting ready to leave for Charlotte.
Callahan had family flying down to Charlotte to meet him but wound up not going. The Packers got lucky when no one claimed Callahan and as soon as he cleared waivers Monday, they called him to the facility and signed him back to the 53.
"If I got claimed, I’m packing my bags and leaving," Callahan said. "I’m happy to be back. It’s not the best feeling getting cut. You get a little frustrated, but it’s the business as the third quarterback and I went through that last year. Hopefully, I can stick around, catch on."
If he doesn't Sunday against Detroit, then he'll wait until the summer when his next opportunity rolls around.
"A lot can happen," Callahan said. "(Just) get another chance to keep proving myself going into next year and just try to make the most of every opportunity."