The New England Patriots are opening their preseason schedule tonight at Washington, and someone other than Tom Brady is under center.
Brady is on the sidelines as Ryan Mallett starts at quarterback, giving the former Arkansas star a chance to compete against Washington’s first-team defense.
Here’s what you need to know about him:
1. He Was the Highest Drafted Patriots QB Since Drew Bledsoe
The Patriots took Mallett in the third round of the 2011 draft with the 74th overall pick. Mallett was drafted three rounds earlier than Brady was in 2000 and was the highest drafted Patriots quarterback since Drew Bledsoe was the No. 1 overall pick in 1993.
Mallett was selected with a compensatory pick that the Patriots got when they traded Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings.
2. He Has 1 Career Regular Season Completion in 3 Years
Even for a backup, Mallett has gotten stunningly little playing time over the past three years. He’s thrown only four career passes, all in 2012, and has as many interceptions (one) as completions.
It’s not as if he never plays, though. He’s played in 15 games in each of his three seasons as the Pats’ holder.
3. The Patriots Are Considering Trading Him
There’s rampant speculation that the Patriots could trade Mallett, especially after the Pats drafted Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo this past spring.
The conventional wisdom is that if the Pats are comfortable with Garoppolo as Brady’s primary backup, Mallett is expendable and could bring back a sizable return for a guy with such little game experience.
That means Thursday’s start could serve as an audition for teams interested in acquiring Mallett.
4. He Transferred From Michigan to Arkansas
Mallett played one year at Michigan before transferring to Arkansas, where he emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the country.
In two seasons with the Hogs, he threw for 62 touchdowns and had an off-the-charts 158.1 quarterback rating.
5. He’s Huge
The Patriots list Mallett at 6-feet-6 and 245 pounds.