Packers elevate QB Callahan from practice squad, put Rollins on IR

Tom Silverstein
Packers News
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Green Bay Packers quarterback Joe Callahan pump fakes the ball during Family Night at Lambeau Field.

GREEN BAY – Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Sunday he planned to roll with Brett Hundley and Joe Callahan as his quarterbacks, and he made it official Monday when Callahan was signed from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

The Packers cleared a roster spot for Callahan by placing cornerback Quinten Rollins on injured reserve. Rollins hopped off the field with an ankle injury against the Minnesota Vikings and ultimately was carted to the locker room. 

Now Hundley will take over the starting job from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who suffered a broken right collarbone in the first quarter of the team’s 23-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Callahan, it appears, will be the backup.

It’s unclear if the Packers plan on putting Rodgers on injured reserve or keeping him on the 53-man roster with the hope that he could return later in the season. Though the Packers have said Rodgers’ injury could be season-ending, they have not revealed whether he will need surgery to repair the break.

The Packers are expected to work out some veteran quarterbacks, but it doesn’t appear they intend to add a third to the 53-man roster.

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The Packers are expected to work out some veteran quarterbacks, but it doesn’t appea

In Callahan, the Packers are adding someone who knows their system well but has not played a down of regular-season football. The record-setting quarterback from Wesley College was on the Packers’ 53-man roster for nine games last year but was active for only one.

He also spent time on the 53-man roster of the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns, both of whom claimed him off waivers, the Saints after the Packer released him Oct. 13 and the Browns after the Saints waived him on Oct. 22.

After the Browns released him on Nov. 29, he was signed to the Packers’ practice squad Dec. 2 and then added to the 53-man roster on Dec. 17.

The 6-1, 216-pound Callahan had an excellent camp in 2016 after signing as an undrafted free agent and wound up making the 53-man roster. He benefited from Hundley missing most of training camp with an ankle injury and performed well above expectations, completing 54 of 88 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions (124.8 rating).

This past training camp, Callahan struggled, completing 13 of 21 passes for 112 yards (37.3 rating), and was outperformed by rookie free agent Taysom Hill.

After camp, general manager Ted Thompson released both quarterbacks. Hill was claimed on waivers by the New Orleans Saints and Callahan signed with the Packers’ practice squad after clearing waivers.

Callahan has been splitting scout team reps with Hundley the past six weeks. However, he sits through all the quarterback meetings and prepares as though he’s going to play each week.

Losing Rollins is simply the latest blow to an already-wounded secondary. The Packers entered Sunday's game against the Vikings without safety Morgan Burnett (hamstring) and cornerbacks Kevin King (concussion) and Davon House (quadricep). At times, the Packers were forced to rely on undrafted rookie Lenzy Pipkins, who hadn't played a single snap on defense this season.  

Though his playing time had decreased significantly, Rollins spent the majority of his snaps in the slot due to his strong run support and blitz ability. Damarious Randall, Pipkins and Burnett are the likely replacements at the star position moving forward.

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