Insider: Thumbs up to Callahan, down to Taylor
If the Green Bay Packers keep only two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster, they allowed third-string Joe Callahan prolonged exposure to teams desperate for a young, promising project at the game’s most important position.
It’s unlikely Callahan would be claimed before passing through waivers and becoming available for the Packers' practice squad. Most NFL teams have a young quarterback they’ve worked with throughout the offseason months.
Regardless, it’s fair to wonder if Thursday night might have provided just enough film for teams around the league to become intrigued.
BOX SCORE: Chiefs 17, Packers 7
Callahan has deceptive elusiveness inside and outside the pocket, something he displayed many times against the Kansas City Chiefs’ pass rush. The undrafted rookie from tiny Wesley College — a Division III program — played into the fourth quarter of the Packers' 17-7 loss.
He completed 13 of 24 passes for 143 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and an 85.9 rating. At one point early in the second half, Callahan’s rating was north of 100.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Callahan’s night was how he withstood constant pressure from the Chiefs. The Packers' backup offensive line struggled, allowing four sacks for a loss of 34 yards. Several times, Callahan showed an ability to extend plays with his legs and throw accurately on the run.
If it’s not enough for him to get a job on the 53-man roster, perhaps Callahan can find a home somewhere other than the Packers’ practice squad.
The Packers signed Lane Taylor to a two-year contract this offseason presumably with the intent of having the former undrafted guard out of Oklahoma State as a backup plan for next season, when both starting guards become free agents.
After Thursday night, it’s going to be a nervous 36 hours.
Taylor might not have played his way off the 53-man roster, but he had about as bad of a preseason finale as a player on the roster bubble would care to stomach. Taylor had three penalties — two on consecutive snaps — and allowed a third-down sack in the third quarter.
The low point came with the Packers facing second-and-10 in the second quarter. Running back Brandon Burks ran for three yards, setting up a less-than-ideal third and 7. Still, third and 7 is better than second and 17, which the Packers got because of Taylor’s holding penalty.
On the Packers’ next snap, Taylor was called for a false start. What would have been a convertible third-and-long became second-and-22. The drive was over.
Taylor was called for another holding penalty in the third quarter. Two plays later, he failed to slide over when Chiefs defensive lineman Nick Williams came crashing through the B gap, sacking Callahan for a 14-yard loss on third down.
The Packers will have to consider the entirety of this preseason, as well as their big-picture plans for Taylor, not merely a handful of snaps. Regardless, Taylor would’ve preferred fewer holes in his final audition.
Bits and pieces
» The Packers finally had the top of their inside linebacker depth chart available together Thursday night. It likely did little to reveal what their rotation will be in their Sept. 11 regular-season opener in Jacksonville. Jake Ryan and Sam Barrington were coupled frequently in nickel, with Blake Martinez also rotating. Martinez handled snaps as the lone inside linebacker in dime. Ryan, who hadn’t played in the preseason, showed plenty of rust but also potential as a thumper against the run. When the regular-season begins, one has to think Martinez will get the bulk of nickel snaps alongside either Ryan or Barrington.
» Though he has the talent and athleticism to be a big-play tight end, Jared Cook never has been a consistent red zone threat in his career. That could change this fall. Cook, whose career high is five touchdowns in a season, found the end zone for the first time with the Packers when Callahan hit him for a five-yard score in the first quarter. Callahan simply lofted his pass to the right sideline, and Cook had the height and length to run underneath it. Perhaps it was a foreshadowing of things to come from Aaron Rodgers and Cook this fall.
» Two days after joining the Packers, new punter Jacob Schum got an extensive workout. Schum punted eight times against the Chiefs, and the first impression was solid. He averaged 45.5 yards per punt, with a long of 57, three going more than 50 yards and six going at least 44. He also pinned the Chiefs at the 9-yard line twice. His third punt — the 57 yarder — came inches from pinning the Chiefs inside the 1-yard line before rolling into the end zone for a touchback.