From the Sports Editor: Callahan gets another chance to prove himself as Packers QB

 

Maybe Joe Callahan will wake up someday soon and discover this has all just been a dream.

And let’s keep in mind that countless other unheralded NFL quarterbacks have looked like Hall of Famers in preseason never to be heard from again once the season starts.

Former Wesley QB Joe Callahan is battling for a spot on the Packers’ roster. (Photo courtesy of Packers.com.)

Former Wesley QB Joe Callahan is battling for a spot on the Packers’ roster. (Photo courtesy of Packers.com.)

But darned if Joe Callahan from little Wesley College hasn’t made a name for himself with the Green Bay Packers the last few weeks.

When even your team’s star QB, Aaron Rodgers, is talking about you, you must be doing something right.

“It’s fun to see him progress,” Rodgers said after Green Bay’s 21-10 preseason victory over the 49ers last Friday night. “He’s constantly making improvements with his fundamentals, and he’s a gamer. He goes out there and makes plays.”

Callahan’s performance against San Francisco may have been his best yet as a pro.

He was 16-for-24 for 167 yards with a touchdown. The TD came when Callahan drilled an 18-yard scoring pass to receiver Jared Abbrederis on the first drive of the third quarter.

But Callahan also made what coach Mike McCarthy called the “play of the game” on a third-and-20 from the Packers’ 30. The undersized Callahan somehow circled away from the 49ers’ blitzing pass rush, rolled out and flung a 51-yard bomb to Geronimo Allison.

Green Bay then scored a TD on the next play.

“I felt pretty good after that game, especially with the way that we finished — on a big play and then a rush for a touchdown,” said Callahan. “That was a good way to finish my day.

“I definitely want to make the most of every opportunity I get. I think it kind of comes with the preparation each week. I’ve got some great teachers in the coaches and players around me. I just try to mentally prepare as much as I can and then execute once it’s time to perform on the field.”

There’s no question that the Packers have given Callahan a chance.

In three preseason games, the former Wolverine is 41-of-64 for 356 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Green Bay’s other three QBs combined are just 17-for-31 for 182 yards with one TD.

Callahan will get one last audition tonight. He’s expected to start when the Packers go to Kansas City for a 7 p.m. contest. Then comes the day of reckoning when Green Bay cuts down to its 53-man regular-season roster.

At this point, it’s difficult to imagine Green Bay not keeping Callahan, even if it’s on the practice squad. Indeed, there’s even talk in the press that the Packers might have to keep Callahan on the active roster.

Either way, it’s a heck of a story so far.

“I think Joe Callahan’s a great example of it’s not really where you start, it’s where you finish,” said McCarthy. “I understand his background, but Joe’s a hell of a football player.

“He was extremely productive in his college career and he’s really, if you go back to the OTAs, he’s improved every step of the way. It’s just like anything; can guys absorb the information and apply it on the field? His application part of it really relates and definitely shows you what kind of football player he is.”

‘Big’ disappointment

Not surprisingly, there were some disappointed people downstate at Little League’s announcement last Friday that it has eliminated Big League baseball and softball.

Kent County had hosted the Big League baseball Eastern Regional for a number of years while Lower Sussex had hosted the Big League softball World Series.

“Having spent 23 years coaching the division and over 35 years involved, I am extremely disappointed,” Biff Newnam, the administrator for Kent County’s District I, wrote in an email to the district’s volunteers.

“On behalf of (former District I administrator) Lynn Deakins and myself, I must thank all of those who have made the Big League programs successful in Delaware District I. Your efforts are what made our programs such a benefit for the young adults of central Delaware. Also each summer for the past 30 years, hosting the Eastern Regional, again provided a wonderful experience for the young men of our region.

“Thank you for all you have done and thank you for the fond memories that I carry with me of the players, the fans and the volunteers who made our Big League programs memorable.”

Other people have started a Facebook group called, “We Still Want Big League Baseball & Softball.”

Odds & ends

•There will be four players from Delaware on the field when Richmond faces Holy Cross in women’s soccer on Friday evening.

Lexi Prillaman (Caesar Rodney) and Brooke Beam (Indian River) will be suiting up for the Spiders with Caroline Cashion (Dover) and Samantha Peters (Wilmington Charter) in uniform for the Crusaders.

•The Dover High School Alumni Association is holding its 3rd Annual Alumni (and friends) Golf Outing at Maple Dale Country Club on Oct. 15 at 1 p.m.

The group awarded $6,000 in scholarships to five Capital School District students for the 2015-16 school year.

•Delmar High grad Alex Ellis has five catches for 49 yards in his bid to make the Titans as an undrafted free agent tight end. He had a nine-yard reception for his first pro touchdown two weeks ago.

•Cape Henlopen grad Jacki Coveleski is working as a volunteer coach for the Delaware field hockey program, where she finished her playing career last year.

•Wilmington native Wendell Smallwood, whose family now lives in Smyrna, got his first carry with the Philadelphia Eagles last week. Fittingly, he was tackled by the Colts’ Zach Kerr, a former University of Delaware standout.

•In the State News’ sports department, we’ve been busy working on our annual Henlopen Conference football preview section, which will appear in our Sept. 8 edition.

We’ll preview all 14 downstate grid teams with schedules and other features to get you ready for the 2016 high school season.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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