GREEN BAY – While he wasn’t the biggest surprise to come out of the NFL’s cut-down day – see: Sitton, Josh – Joe Callahan’s inclusion on the Green Bay Packers roster certainly qualified as an upset victory.
When Callahan arrived in Green Bay in May, the undrafted rookie quarterback from tiny Wesley College wasn’t expected to be a serious threat at the roster. With second-year quarterback Brett Hundley ready to assume primary backup duty behind Aaron Rodgers, a third quarterback could have been considered a luxury.
Hundley’s left ankle injury – and then re-injury against Oakland – might have changed that dynamic. A fifth-round pick in 2015, Hundley was expected to play extensively in five preseason games. After the Hall of Fame Game was cancelled, Hundley missed three games with the injury.
His preseason consisted of only 20 snaps spread out over two possessions against the Raiders.
It’s worth wondering what Callahan’s inclusion on the 53-man roster says about the severity of Hundley’s injury, though he returned to practice last week. It’s also far from certain Callahan will stay on the 53-man roster. The Packers have more roster decisions to make, including the addition of a long snapper.
Regardless, Callahan benefited from Hundley’s absence with extended playing time in the preseason, and he used the extra snaps to earn a job. It's the second straight year the Packers kept three quarterbacks on their initial 53-man roster.
Callahan made an impressive transition from Division III football to the NFL. The Packers were impressed with his game management, mobility outside the pocket and ability to throw on the move. He completed 54-of-88 (61.4 percent) passes for 499 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions with an 88.2 rating in the preseason.
Those numbers are not overwhelming. For comparison, Hundley completed 45-of-65 (69.2 percent) passes for 630 yards, seven touchdowns, one interception and a 129.6 rating in his eye-popping preseason last year. But the Packers offensive line didn’t give Callahan much help this summer.
Callahan was sacked four times and under constant pressure in Thursday night’s preseason finale at Kansas City. He weathered the pressure, then earned a job.
If the Packers’ preferred destination for their third quarterback was the practice squad – three quarterback on the 53 remains a luxury – it’s clear they were concerned their developmental prospect with promising upside wouldn’t pass through waivers.
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