Hundley status impacts Callahan decision

Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Hundley (7) gestures to a teammate after training camp at Ray Nitschke Field August 30, 2016.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Hundley, who dressed Thursday night for the final exhibition game but did not play, said he expects to be back at practice next week and healthy enough to be the backup for starter Aaron Rodgers in Week 1.

Hundley essentially was an emergency quarterback against the Kansas City Chiefs, available to play only if both Joe Callahan and Marquise Williams were to go down with an injury and coach Mike McCarthy needed someone to hand off the ball

The second-year quarterback ran some movement drills in practice this week and was dressed for pre-game warm-ups, his first significant work since aggravating a sprained left ankle in the Oakland game Aug. 18. The Packers don't practice until Monday, so Hundley has another three days to continue healing and building strength in his ankle.

"I feel good," Hundley said.

Asked if he would practice next week, he said, "Oh yeah."

Perhaps not wanting to say anything he wasn't supposed to, Hundley added, "Well, hopefully."

The one thing Hundley insisted was that he would be available for the opener in Jacksonville.

"I will be ready," he said.

Hundley's availability could affect the Packers' decision whether to keep Callahan, who started his third exhibition game and was able to put up some decent numbers again. Callahan didn't finish as well as he did in San Francisco last week, leading the team to just one touchdown - on a 14-yard drive after a blocked punt -- in 11 series.

Callahan completed 11 of 17 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown (105.3 passer rating) in the first half, but the second half didn't go as well and he finished 13 of 24 for 143 yards and a touchdown (85.9).

The lack of production wasn't all Callahan's fault.

On one 62-play drive, tight end Casey Pierce fumbled at the end of a 22-yard reception down to the Kansas City 15 and on another drive inside Kansas City territory, running back Brandon Burks fumbled at the 41-yard line. Seven of Callahan's drives ended in punts and one ended on downs.

In four games, the record-setting quarterback from Division III Wesley completed 54 of 88 for 499 yards and three touchdowns, good for a passer rating of 88.2. Callahan's yards per attempt (5.7) and completion percentage (61.4 percent) paled in comparison to Hundley's (9.6 and 71.4 percent) and Rodgers' (6.7 and 66.7 percent), but a little more luck on a couple of deep balls -- including one against the Chiefs that receiver Ty Montgomery dropped when he hit the ground -- and his numbers might have been significantly better.

One of Callahan's best throws of the night was his connection with tight end Jared Cook for a 5-yard touchdown. Callahan threw a perfect fade into the corner of the end zone where only Cook could get to it.

"It was basically a wheel route and timed it up and beat the defender," Cook said. "Joe did a great job and threw me a heck of a ball right in the back corner of the end zone to keep me inbounds."

The Packers have a tough decision coming up with Callahan. Were Hundley still hobbled by the ankle injury he initially suffered in practice Aug. 3, general manager Ted Thompson would be forced to keep Callahan as the backup for Jacksonville.

Assuming Hundley is ready for Jacksonville, Thompson's decision comes down to whether he wants to risk losing Callahan to another team via waivers, which the quarterback would need to clear in order to return to the team's practice squad.

Among the teams who might be interested in Callahan are the rival Minnesota Vikings, who lost starter Teddy Bridgewater for the season with a serious knee injury and lost rookie Joel Stave for an undetermined amount of time with a hand injury in a victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night.

"This is the position you want to be in as a head coach and as a general manager," McCarthy said when asked after the game about some of the tough decisions the club will have to make as the 3 p.m. Saturday deadline for trimming rosters to 53 approaches. "This is the product of putting together a healthy roster and with that we'll start that process as we get on the plane tonight."

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