Ryan Mallett Plays Surprisingly Well During Preseason Debut for Patriots

Ryan Mallett Plays Surprisingly Well During Preseason Debut for Patriots FOXBORO, Mass. — After a shaky two weeks of training camp, Patriots rookie quarterback Ryan Mallett was surprisingly exceptional during Thursday's preseason opener against the Jaguars.

He delivered his throws with confidence during four consecutive touchdown drives in the second half, and he didn't look as rushed with his reads and motions as he had during practice. Mallett completed 12 of 19 passes for 164 yards and one touchdown.

His second throw of the night was his best, hitting Taylor Price on an out route past the sticks on third-and-5, and Price slipped past a tackle to rip off a 50-yard play. While Price was responsible for the highlight, Mallett deserved credit for throwing a strike across his body to the sideline, which is an NFL throw in the truest sense of the phrase.

"It felt good just to get out there and play football with the guys," Mallett said. "We've been working hard in camp, and to get out there and actually see a product that's not just practice, and to see a different colored jersey was a lot of fun."

Rookie quarterbacks always struggle in training camp, and Mallett fell victim to the most common tendencies. He struggled with his reads — often looking at the defense instead of trusting himself and his teammates — and had very fast feet in the pocket, something that did creep up on him at times before his incompletions Thursday. Mallett has also sailed a lot of throws, and his mechanics could have been off due to the propensity to rush things. And there were other times when he pulled down the ball and ran out of the pocket.

That's why it was so surprising to see him shake those tendencies and play with a level of calmness that wasn't very evident over the previous two weeks. It was obviously a great sign for the Patriots, and it could be an indication that he is more relaxed on the field in a situation with more pressure.

Mallett won't leapfrog Brian Hoyer on the depth chart, but this season isn't about that for the rookie. It's about getting himself acclimated to the NFL life, both on and off the field. So far, he has seemed like a good citizen for the Patriots, and he backed that up by boasting a strong performance during his preseason debut.            

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