Joe Callahan succeeding with no shortcuts

Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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GREEN BAY - Backup Brett Hundley returned to practice Monday, albeit only to take part in a couple of individual drills with the other quarterbacks, keeping alive the possibility undrafted quarterback Joe Callahan will be on the 53-man roster.

Even if Hundley is ready to play Week 1 against Jacksonville, the Packers will have a tough decision to make with Callahan.

Were it any other year and the Packers didn’t have so much talent at other positions, they probably wouldn’t hesitate to keep Callahan as the third quarterback regardless the condition of Hundley’s tender ankle.

But keeping a third quarterback might mean keeping five wide receivers instead of six or 10 defensive backs instead of 11 and that means the Packers might have to roll the dice on getting a promising young prospect like receiver Trevor Davis or safety Kentrell Brice or cornerback Josh Hawkins past waivers so he could be signed to the practice squad.

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And so the Packers will take one more look at Callahan in two practices and the final exhibition game Thursday night in Kansas City before making their final decision.

One thing they do know is that Callahan has done just about everything an undrafted free agent from a Division III school could do to make a team. His latest resume builder was a 51-snap performance against the San Francisco 49ers Thursday night in which he completed 16 of 24 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown (100.5 rating).

“I think Joe Callahan’s a great example of it’s not really where you start, it’s where you finish,” coach Mike McCarthy said Monday morning. “I understand his background, but Joe’s a hell of a football player.

“He was extremely productive in his college career and he’s really, if you go back to the OTAs, he’s improved every step of the way. It’s just like anything; can guys absorb the information and apply it on the field? His application part of it really relates and definitely shows you what kind of football player he is.”

McCarthy said he has treated Callahan no different than he would Rodgers and Hundley in the exhibition games. He is expected to run the same plays and make the same adjustments the two veterans are asked to make.

One of the things that would have made Callahan’s performance special was if he had hit one or more of the “shot” plays he took in the game. Receiver Davante Adams dropped one deep ball that would have been a touchdown, receiver Trevor Davis had another deep ball glance off his fingertips and receiver Ty Montgomery wasn’t able to catch up to another long throw.

“Joe Callahan has been treated just like Aaron Rodgers and Brett Hundley,” McCarthy said. “Joe’s doing a very good job running our offense. We haven’t excluded anything from him. He’s improved each and every week.

“I thought he played very well against San Francisco. I mean there were two or three big plays out there that we didn’t convert on the other end of it, big-time throws that he made. I’m very happy with the way Joe has played.”

After the game, teammates were very impressed with what Callahan was able to do.

“I thought Joe was exceptional,” said tight end Jared Cook, who had three first-down receptions from Callahan. “Coach McCarthy let us prove a little what we’re made of on fourth down a little more and a lot of those times we were able to keep those drives alive.”

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