GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers isn’t the only quarterback playing well for the Green Bay Packers. His backups are shining, too, which could lead to some intriguing roster decisions with the start of the regular season three weeks away.
And that’s just the way coach Mike McCarthy wants it.
A day after his quarterbacks played well again in the team’s second consecutive preseason victory, this time a 21-17 triumph at Washington, the coach explained Sunday that his goal is for his young signal-callers to take after Rodgers, the two-time NFL MVP.
“There’s a focus on emulation of that No. 1 quarterback,” McCarthy said. “That’s having a lead dog that does it the right way and the (No.) 2 trying to be like him and everybody trying to coach that.”
Halfway through the preseason, that’s exactly what’s happened.
Rodgers, who saw action in only one preseason game last summer, got the somewhat surprising start against the Redskins and looked to be in midseason form, completing 6 of 8 passes for 37 yards and a touchdown (123.4 rating) while engineering a 15-play, 75-yard scoring drive.
Hundley then came on and went 9 for 10 for 107 yards and a touchdown (144.6 rating). And while a fumble and limited opportunities hurt Callahan’s stat line (1 of 3, 0 yards), Hill was the Packers’ leading rusher he ran six times for 38 yards, including the winning 23-yard touchdown run and his passing numbers (6 of 11, 49 yards, 66.1 rating) belied his effectiveness.
“Taysom, I thought played better this week than he did last week,” McCarthy said, aware Hill had a perfect passer rating (158.3) in last week’s win over Philadelphia. “He’s put together two weeks where he’s made big plays.”
Through two games, all three of the quarterbacks behind Rodgers have shown a striking resemblance to him in his ability to make big plays with his mobility, a gift that has made Rodgers such a dangerous passer both inside and outside the pocket.
“All three of those guys do a good job with their legs extending plays,” said Rodgers, who didn’t play in the opener and who’ll get his most extended preseason playing time next week at Denver. “It’s fun to see those guys get out there and play well.
“(I’m) happy for those guys.”
Two summers ago, Hundley was the pleasant surprise of training camp, putting together a remarkable preseason after slipping to the fifth round in the NFL draft out of UCLA. Last year, it was Callahan, a small-school undrafted free agent who showed some Brett Favre-esque improvisational skills when an ankle injury kept Hundley on the sideline. And now, it’s Hill, an incredibly athletic quarterback who endured a star-crossed, injury-plagued college career at BYU.
Hill has finished each game this preseason with an impressive play a touchdown pass to Michael Clark last week and his winding, 23-yard touchdown scamper on Saturday night.
“I know it’s the preseason. As a rookie to come in and get some opportunities to play, my priority is to make sure I put us in a position to win the football game,” Hill said. “One of the first things I said when I got in the huddle and was on the field was, ‘We’re out here to showcase what we can do. We’re also out here to win this football game. Let’s make sure we do whatever we can to win.’”
That sounds like something Rodgers would say.
“What I’m looking for in Aaron Rodgers is for these three guys to try to emulate his particular mannerisms, the techniques, and those types of things,” McCarthy said. “Because that’s the way we play offense, and we play offense running everything through the quarterback position. So where one guy is as far as in front of the other, our goal is to have all four of them ready to play.”