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Hill, Callahan's Third-String Quarterback Race Nearing Close Finish

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Hill, Callahan's Third-String Quarterback Race Nearing Close Finish

The long-awaited culmination of the death race for the Green Bay Packers' third-string quarterback job should conclude on Thursday in the preseason finale against the Rams.

It's been one of the more underrated, interesting stories of the offseason. Between Taysom Hill and Joe Callahan, both have showcased their talents and solidified the notion that the both of them belong.

Unfortunately, that's not how it works.

After the third preseason game, it's usually the time of the year when NFL teams trim their rosters down to the maximum of 75 players. They scrapped that rule, and now, teams have until the September 2nd cut-down day to descend their roster totals to the standard 53 players.

This works out for the two bottom-of-the-barrel quarterbacks, who have been duking it out all preseason for the backup-to-the-backup role. Brett Hundley is still leaps and bounds ahead of the two and will enter the 2017 season as Aaron Rodgers' set-in-stone backup for the third year in a row, no questions asked.

This coming Thursday is going to be the final auditions for both Hill and Callahan, who will likely handle the bulk of the snaps, as will some of the other youngsters at various positions on the Packers' roster. The fourth preseason game is typically for those contending for a spot.

"I definitely had a lot more reps last preseason with [Brett] Hundley going down and [Aaron] Rodgers not playing much, but I guess I was a little spoiled last year," said Callahan after Tuesday's practice. He shined in his preseason debut with the Packers' last year so brightly that he entered the regular season with a spot on the roster.

"This year, I'm just trying to make the most of the opportunities that I do get."

"This year" is a little of a different story for Callahan. Since the first game against the Eagles in which he was the Packers' leading passer, he threw just three passes against the Redskins the following week and didn't see the field at all a week later in Denver. To be fair, neither did Hill. 

Callahan trying to evade pass rush from Redskins linebacker Lynden Trail. (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)

It was a game in which Aaron Rodgers played two series before handing it off to Hundley, who finished the game and had one of his finest considering the punishment administered to the offensive line depth.

It's a far cry given Callahan's play in 2016, in which his three touchdowns and lack of interceptions (0) gave the Packers more incentive to keep him around and prevent other teams from swooping in on the undrafted preseason star.

"I just hope that I'm able to show how much everything's come together with my understanding of the offense, my ability to get the ball out and get completions, keep moving the chains and put some points on the board.

"My comfortability with the playbook is one thing I've started to put more pressure on myself to take more responsibility on and go through some of the checks that last year I wasn't able to make. Just with better knowledge of the offense now, I feel like I'm able to do some new things."

In Tuesday's final training camp practice in preparation for Thursday's preseason finale, Hundley took the first-team reps, followed by Hill and then Callahan. It's likely that Hundley will step aside after a few series - or possibly a quarter - and hand duties off to Hill.

Either way, both contenders will get a chance to leave one last live-game impression on those responsible for the roster cut-downs. As it stands right now, many believe Callahan is the odd man out despite his stellar performance a year ago.

And that's just fine.

"I view things as a clean slate. I always want to keep improving, and it's nice to have a little bit to lean back on from last year but in my mind, I have to keep proving myself everytime I touch the field.

"I guess you could put too much pressure on yourself, it depends on each person. I feel like I like the added pressure. We'll see what happens Thursday."


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (14) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

The TKstinator's picture


Since '61's picture

Thursday's game is not only a battle to make the roster it is also an opportunity to show enough to catch on with another team even if a player is released after the game. If both Hill and Callahan play well Thursday I could see the one not kept by the Packers picked up by another QB hungry team. The NY Jets come to mind as an example. Thanks, Since '61

marpag1's picture

I'll be surprised if the Packers keep a third string QB. If you want to keep "extra" WRs, extra safeties or a second fullback... something has to give. There are too many other position groups on the roster that might need an extra guy.

porupack's picture

Hundley is a versatile backup, and the duo QBs should be good going into season. Elevate the 3rd from P.S. only if need. (so far, I'd roll with Hill).

It is highly unlikely someone will take Call or Hill to their 53. Both are too raw and unknown to make that commitment, unless one of their coaching staff had direct experience with either.

Save space for expanding the candidate pool for weak/thin position groups; OLB and OL.

Turophile's picture

"Save space for expanding the candidate pool for weak/thin position groups; OLB and OL." ???
That's not how you do it poruppack. Keeping the weakest guys at the weakest position groups, means that you dump higher rated guys at the back end of strong units.

For example, do you keep a 6th OLB (after Matthews, Perry, A.Brooks, Fackrell and Elliott - Biegel to pup) ? The 6th would be Gilbert. Well I doubt the Packers do that. Instead they let Elliott go, because he has back trouble that keeps forcing him to quit practice. You put Gilbert in his place as 5th OLB, and he can help out at least until Biegel comes back off pup.

Not having a 6th OLB allows (for example) a fourth ILB, Tripp, who is on every ST unit and has good value to the team, or a 5th Safety like Marwin Evans, who has had a great camp, or a 6th DL like Ringo, who has improved his game this year. Of course that extra choice could be on the offense as well, like a 7th WR.

Once you have the minimum necessary warm bodies at each position group, the 51st, 52nd and 53rd guys should be the BEST of the rest, the guys that dictate having an extra guy at a position, whether it is the 2nd FB, 3rd QB, 9th OL, 7th WR, 4th RB, 6th DL, 5th S, etc.

I know sometimes other factors come into play, like maybe putting the second FB (Kerridge) on the PS gives a good chance of him not being claimed off waivers, because many teams don't use a FB. Even so, as a general rule, you still want stronger players over weaker ones.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I expect Hundley to play the whole first half. Giving him as much of an audition as possible is more important than deciding between Hill and Callahan. In the grand scheme of things, it is unlikely that the decision between Hill and Callahan causes GB to win or lose even 1 game.

I sure wish AR had thrown a few more passes to Bennett in the preseason games.

croatpackfan's picture

With this opinion, I disagree...

I think it is very important to make quality judgement on which QB to keep on PS (or even both - I'm not fan of that!), because trading Brett Hundley may come at any point of the upcoming season. You need to know what you have as 3rd QB at this moment, so you will not be pushed to pass probable excellent offer for Brett Hundley!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Looks to me like GB knew what they were going to do between Hill and Callahan before this last preseason game started. They only gave Callahan the last 6:42 to show what he could do.

sheppercheeser's picture

Guess I'm in the minority when I say I don't think Hundley has elevated his game this year. I know he's been in a lot with the JV offensive line, but I expected more out of him for the time he has had to develop.

Donster's picture

Hundley makes the roster. That's a gimmie. I think they shouldn't play Hundley in game 4. Hill first half and Callahan second half. They already know what they have in Hundley. They will have to waive Hill and Callahan because of need at RB and secondary. I don't see them keeping three QB's. Then they will put one of the two waived QB's on the PS, providing they both aren't picked up by another team. I feel they should keep Hill if possible.

Finwiz's picture

I'm pretty sure the reason Hill and Callahan didn't play in game 3 was all related to GB show casing Hundley for a potential trade. I'm sure GB would be fine with a 3rd or 4th round pick, and Callahan and Hill as backups - one of them to the PS. I'm not sure Hundley showed enough in the preseason to justify a team trading for him, but we will see down the road as cut down nears.

GBPDUKE's picture

I appreciate most of the article written on this site. However this article does not sit well with me. The author by referring to the two Quarterbacks as "two bottom-of-the-barrel quarterbacks" negates everything this article is trying to portray. There are only 32 teams and even less qualified backup quarterbacks that can make it this far. These two may not make a team but to call them bottom of the barrel is an insult.

Junglebob's picture

I watched Joe Callahan take the snaps last yr and with little playing time to see this yr... I was hooked on his QB skills.. foot work and awareness and his ability to move the offense .. he showed me enough consistency in his work last year to keep him ! .. Hill may be a better running QB and bigger built .. Hundley, I question his durability and his iffiness to move the offense consistently ..for as long as he's been here, I expected him to be more polished ... but a good prospect on the market.. I'd hate to see Callahan and Hill go .. but I choose Callahan over Hill.

PatrickGB's picture

Aaron has spoiled us. We can no longer look at QBs the same way. I have agreed with many posters who have commented that our backups don't look all that good. But when I watch the backups (and many starters) from other teams play, I see that we aren't doing so bad after all. Yet in many ways our team is tied to Aaron's skill set and if we keep a backup that player(s) need some of the same skills. Not necessarily to Aaron's level. But he needs to be smart and accurate when moving out of the pocket. Everything else comes with practice.

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