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Packers Training Camp Preview: Backup QB competition will heat up in August

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Two players who started at QB against one another last year will compete for a job this August.

NFL: Green Bay Packers-Organized Team Activity Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Today, Acme Packing Company begins our preview of the Green Bay Packers’ 2018 training camp by examining the quarterbacks on the 90-man roster, followed by our predictions for which of these players will make the 53-man roster out of training camp. Follow along over the next two weeks as we break down the roster position-by-position and reveal our predictions.

The Green Bay Packers entered the 2017 regular season with clarity at the backup quarterback position for the first time in a long time. Brett Hundley played plenty well enough in the preseason to be the unquestioned backup, even as Taysom Hill impressed in training camp. When it came down to decision time, Hill was cut loose in the hopes that he would clear waivers and make the practice squad; he didn’t, and the team brought Joe Callahan back as the third QB on the practice squad.

When Aaron Rodgers went down with an injury, all eyes were on Hundley, who failed to live up to expectations. Thus, the Packers under new GM Brian Gutekunst brought in competition for Hundley this offseason to push him in the final year of his rookie contract.

Here’s a look at the four quarterbacks on the Packers’ 90-man roster.

Aaron Rodgers

Years of NFL experience: 13
Current contract: Signed through 2019; 2018 cap hit $20,562,500
2017 stats: 7 games; 154-238 (64.7% completions), 1675 yards (7.0 yards/attempt), 16 TDs, 6 INTs; 24 carries, 126 yards (5.3 yards/carry)

The two-time MVP comes into 2018 with a chip on his shoulder — figuratively in terms of wanting to bounce back from injury, and literally as he broke his collarbone last season. That injury kept Rodgers out for seven games in the middle of the season, before he returned for one contest and subsequently landed on injured reserve again.

Overall, Rodgers’ per-pass efficiency numbers have been down a bit in recent years, ever since Jordy Nelson’s ACL tear during the 2015 preseason. However, his 2016 campaign was another very good one, as he was over 65% completions and led the league in passing touchdowns. However, his yards-per-attempt has been at 7.3 or less in each of the past three seasons, falling below his previous career-low of 7.5 set during his first year as a starter.

If Rodgers can find a way to bump that number back up around 8, this offense should be a top-five unit once again. And don’t forget that the last time Rodgers came back off a major injury, he earned his second MVP.

Brett Hundley

Years of NFL experience: 3
Current contract: Final year of rookie contract; 2018 cap hit $760,908 ($705,000 base salary + $55,908 from signing bonus)
2017 stats: 11 games, 9 starts; 192-316 (60.8% completions), 1836 yards (5.8 Y/A), 9 TDs, 12 INTs; 36 carries, 270 yards (7.5 Y/C), 2 TDs

Hundley carried heavy expectations as Rodgers’ backup last year, especially once #12 went down with an injury, and unfortunately he rarely lived up to them. Hundley’s mobility was certainly a useful piece of his season, but he never looked consistently comfortable throwing the football. Granted, taking 29 sacks in nine starts didn’t help, but he was sacked on a similar percentage of dropbacks as Rodgers was when he played.

All told, Hundley will be in for a battle with a newcomer for the rights to back up Rodgers. The nature of his contract makes him expendable if he doesn’t earn the job — he would have just over $55,000 in dead money if the team elects to release or trade him, an easy pill to swallow for a team that still has about $11 million in cap space.

DeShone Kizer

Years of NFL experience: 1
Current contract: Second year of rookie contract, signed through 2020; 2018 base salary $689,928 (fully guaranteed)
2017 stats (with Browns): 15 games, 15 starts; 255-476 (53.6% completions), 2894 yards (6.1 Y/A), 11 TDs, 22 INTs; 77 carries, 419 yards (5.4 Y/C), 5 TDs

Kizer came to Green Bay this offseason in a trade with the Browns, swapped for Damarious Randall and a few late-round draft pick upgrades. Green Bay was reportedly high on him during the 2017 NFL Draft, so his arrival makes some sense.

After a disastrous rookie year in Cleveland that saw Kizer post the worst passer rating of any qualifying quarterback, the Packers must try to pick up the pieces and salvage the natural ability of the former Notre Dame signal-caller. Kizer seems to be all but guaranteed a roster spot, however, both from the perspective of the trade and the fact that his base salary is guaranteed for 2018. No signing bonus amortization remains, as the Browns ate that portion of his contract in the trade, but Kizer appears like a lock to be either the #2 or #3 — the question is which spot will he earn?

Tim Boyle

Years of NFL experience: Rookie
Current contract: three-year undrafted rookie contract; no signing bonus; 2018 base salary $480,000
2017 stats (at Eastern Kentucky): 11 games; 201-237 (61.5% completions), 2134 yards (6.5 Y/A), 11 TDs, 13 INTs

The Packers’ fourth QB is an undrafted rookie who dealt with four different offensive systems in his four college seasons. Boyle played at UConn for three years before transferring to Eastern Kentucky, where he finally got to start on a consistent basis.

A strong-armed player, Boyle has reportedly impressed coaches in spring workouts, but he has an uphill climb ahead of him to make the roster. Realistically, he would need to outplay Hundley to earn a spot on the 53, which is no easy task; even those frustrated with Hundley must acknowledge the advantage he has from spending three years in the organization.

All told, Boyle seems like a likely practice squad player this year, especially given the Packers’ release of Joe Callahan this spring.

Note: contract information provided by Overthecap.com