OWINGS MILLS, Md. - It is not the way any team wants to start training camp. But with backup quarterback Robert Griffin III's broken thumb, that's the scenario the Ravens face.
Griffin was hurt Saturday when he smashed his right hand on a teammate’s helmet. He could miss four-to-six weeks. Enter Joe Callahan, who has been with five other NFL teams and tried out for several others, but found a perfect fit with Baltimore.
To say Callahan, 26, is familiar with offensive coordinator Greg Roman is an understatement. He was Callahan’s offensive coordinator during his sophomore year of high school in 2008 at Holy Spirit High School in Absecon, N.J.
That was Roman’s one-year hiatus from the NFL after 13 years as an assistant coach. He returned to his alma mater, Holy Spirit, to help coach while waiting for another opportunity. That came as the tight ends coach for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford in 2009. Two years later he followed Harbaugh to the San Francisco 49ers as the offensive coordinator and has remained in the NFL ever since.
Roman turned Callahan into a quarterback that sophomore season, moving him from safety. He didn’t play much, but Holy Spirit won a state title and two years later in 2010 did it again – this time with Callahan as the starting quarterback. He became an All-American at Division III Wesley College.
“Greg takes full credit for his career,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh joked on Wednesday.
An undrafted free agent in 2015, Callahan worked his way into opportunities with Green Bay, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Cleveland. He played in a game for the Packers in 2017. He’s had try-outs with Oakland, Seattle, Tampa Bay, and the New York Giants.
Baltimore needed help fast. Without Griffin, the only quarterbacks on the roster are starter Lamar Jackson and former Penn State star Trace McSorely, a sixth-round pick this past spring. Especially in the early preseason games, Callahan should get plenty of work. Griffin could be back for the season-opener against Miami on Sept. 8, so Callahan remains a roster long shot. But he has another chance, and with a familiar face this time.
“I thought Joe looked good [Wednesday],” Harbaugh said. “He has a good arm. He’s won games in the preseason in Green Bay. He’s been in Cleveland. He’s an experienced guy. I think it’s a really interesting story.”
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