Green Bay Packers' 3rd string QB could start HoF game vs. Colts

By The Sports Xchange  |  Aug. 5, 2016 at 12:26 PM
share with facebook
share with twitter
| License Photo

DE PERE, Wis. -- Joe Callahan vs. Andrew Luck to start the NFL preseason schedule?

That's probably the last matchup a national TV audience expected -- and wants -- Sunday night when the Green Bay Packers play the Indianapolis Colts in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.

Based on how Green Bay conducted its final open practice of the week Thursday night, however, that's just what could play out at the start of the game.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and injured top backup Brett Hundley didn't practice, leaving undrafted rookies Callahan and Marquise Williams to handle all of the reps.

Head coach Mike McCarthy has been mum about playing time for Sunday's game, saying those decisions would be made when he huddles with this staff Friday.

However, McCarthy alluded to a concerted effort that was made in pre-practice meetings Thursday to get Callahan and Williams prepped to play extensively against the Colts.

"I think you have to be ready for the alternative," McCarthy said.

He added that Callahan and Williams, the only other quarterbacks on the roster, were slated to play a lot even if Hundley hadn't sustained an ankle injury in practice Monday that leaves his status in doubt for Sunday.

Hundley also missed practice Wednesday after a day off for the team.

As for Rodgers, the two-time league MVP said earlier in the week he's open to playing for however long McCarthy sees fit.

Yet, because the Packers have an extra preseason game this year with their appearance in Canton, the common thought is McCarthy will play it safe by not playing his franchise player. After all, Rodgers hasn't played much in the preseason in recent years.

Callahan is champing at the bit to play as a professional for the first time, particularly on a big stage after setting all kinds of passing records in relative obscurity at Division III Wesley (Del.) College.

"Yeah, first time, on national TV, so this will be pretty cool," he said Thursday. "It's something that we've been working towards all summer. It's exciting. I can't wait."

The Packers signed Callahan as an undrafted free agent in early May. They did the same a few weeks later with Williams, a three-year starter at North Carolina.

McCarthy has been encouraged by both quarterbacks almost two weeks into training camp.

"Marquise has really picked up, I'll say that, and Joe's done a very good job of improving," McCarthy said.

--After veteran right guard T.J. Lang was activated Monday, the Packers continue to have five players on the physically unable to perform list.

They are wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Ty Montgomery, tight end Jared Cook, center Corey Linsley and linebacker Sam Barrington.

"The five PUP players are all status quo," McCarthy said Wednesday. "I really have no updates."

Nelson, the team's top wideout, is trying to work his way back from an injury to his left knee that he sustained while working out before training camp started last week. Nelson missed the entire 2015 season because of a torn ACL in his right knee.

JC Tretter has been filling in as the starting center in Linsley's absence for an undisclosed injury.

--The Packers are due to arrive in Cleveland on Saturday afternoon in advance of the game Sunday night.

McCarthy said players will have the option of taking a bus from the team hotel to Canton that night for the enshrinements of this year's Hall of Fame class.

Second-year linebacker Jake Ryan is hoping to be part of the traveling party.

Ryan is an Ohio native and a product of St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland. Growing up about an hour from the football shrine, Ryan remembers visiting the Hall of Fame on a class field trip.

He also played a couple games at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, site of Sunday's matchup with the Colts.

Ryan's most memorable of a handful of trips to the Hall of Fame was winning the Ohio high school Division 1 state title in 2008, when St. Ignatius prevailed 28-20 over Cincinnati Elder. Ryan clinched the victory by fielding an onside kick with a little more than a minute left.

"I don't really remember (going there) as a kid when I was really young," Ryan said. "But, in high school, I think just playing there was awesome. Playing at the Pro Football Hall of Fame was great."

Ryan is looking forward to seeing the newly renovated stadium.

"It's a little different now from what I played on," he said. "I'm pumped to see what it looks like."

Callahan also is excited to make a return visit to the Hall of Fame, though Sunday's game would be his first chance to play at the stadium.

He was a freshman backup in 2011 when Wesley defeated host Walsh University 28-3 in a regular-season game at that venue.

"The day before, we went and did the little tour of the Hall of Fame," Callahan said. "So it was a pretty cool experience last time.

--Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers will experience the Hall of Fame limelight Saturday night.

Capers is to present Kevin Greene for induction. Capers coached the pass-rushing linebacker as defensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers and then as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers in the 1990s.

"It's been quite a long wait (for him), and if there's anybody that deserves to be in, he certainly deserves it," Capers said. "Once you look at his statistics and his consistency over a long career and his production, certainly warrants being inducted into the Hall of Fame."

Greene reunited with Capers in 2009, when the latter was hired as Green Bay's defensive coordinator. Capers brought Greene on board as his outside linebackers coach, a position he held until he decided to leave coaching after the 2013 season.

--Of course, Canton will be awash in a lot of green and gold this weekend because of the induction of quarterback Brett Favre.

Favre's illustrious 16-year career with the Packers was over before Capers came to Green Bay. Yet, the longtime defensive coach saw Favre plenty as an opponent.

"He was a different guy, a unique guy," Capers said. "Some of the things you would do against the large majority of the quarterbacks you couldn't do against him because he had the arm strength and courage to try to fit the ball into creases," Capers said. "For example, if you were playing a Cover 2 (defense), you had to play your Cover 2 with two deep safeties a little bit different against Favre than what you did against most people because he could throw that ball out on the sideline at 20 yards and it would get there quicker.

"And, you could never relax with Brett. Brett would be a guy, he'd come out early on, I can remember the first couple of series, you didn't want to let him get settled into a groove. But, a tremendous competitor and extremely talented."

--Having five preseason games this year because of their selection to the Hall of Fame contest for the first time since 2003 isn't sitting well with many of Green Bay's older players.

"I think the correct answer for us would be, 'We love it, we'd like to play in it every year,'" fourth-year defensive back Micah Hyde said. "But, me personally, I can't speak for anybody else in the locker room, five preseason games is tough. Four is tough already, and now we have five."

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories