This is the first in a series of stories that’s examining the Packers’ roster, position by position, leading up to training camp. The series begins with the quarterbacks.
GREEN BAY – Each of the Packers’ four quarterbacks has an identifiable agenda for training camp and the preseason.
For starter Aaron Rodgers, it’s staying healthy and getting his new weapons – specifically, tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks – on the same page as the perennial MVP candidate.
For top backup Brett Hundley, it’s preparing to take over Green Bay’s offense should any injuries befell Rodgers, and showing he deserves a chance to start in the NFL.
For No. 3 Joe Callahan, it’s proving he can be a capable No. 2 when Hundley, presumably, departs at some point for another opportunity.
And for undrafted rookie Taysom Hill, it’s challenging Callahan for a roster spot, and demonstrating he was overlooked in the draft and belongs at least on an NFL practice squad.
Given all that, it would seem unlikely Rodgers will play much more than he did last preseason, when he started just once, directed two drives and called it a summer.
The injury risk is just not worth it for the most important player on the entire roster. Now entering his 13th pro season, and once again in great physical shape, Rodgers gains very little from taking snaps against vanilla preseason defenses, and the bulk of his work with Bennett, Kendricks and starting running back Ty Montgomery will come in practice anyway.
That shifts much of the preseason spotlight to Hundley and Callahan.
Hundley had a disappointing second preseason in 2016 due to a troublesome ankle injury. He wasn’t able to build on his dynamite rookie summer (129.6 passer rating) and will be looking to take as many preseason game snaps as the coaches will give him.
Entering the third year of his four-year rookie contract, Hundley wants to start in the NFL someday. If he plays well this summer, he could follow the path of former backup QBs Matt Hasselbeck and Aaron Brooks from the Ron Wolf era and generate trade interest next offseason.
The former fifth-round pick also might play out his entire deal and hit the free-agent market in 2019, looking for the right situation. Either way, this preseason will be big for Hundley and whatever his future holds.
Callahan was the surprise of last year’s training camp, going from an undrafted Division III prospect to a roster spot with 499 passing yards and three touchdowns (with no interceptions) in four preseason games. The Packers eventually needed that spot due to injuries elsewhere and lost Callahan, who took a roundabout route back to Green Bay by the end of his rookie year.
Now, with Hundley’s future possibly elsewhere, Callahan has a chance to seize a higher place in the pecking order down the road. If he indeed makes the jump from Year 1 to Year 2 coaches so often refer to, he could end up staying with the Packers for a while.
That also could depend on Hill, though. Injuries during his college career at BYU
were the biggest reason Hill went undrafted. But the 6-2, 221-pound mobile signal caller, who rushed for 2,815 career yards for the Cougars, has shown a strong arm and will look to be this summer’s Callahan.