FOXBORO, Mass. — With 7:40 remaining in the fourth quarter of the New England Patriots’ preseason opener Thursday night, Danny Etling checked in for his first snap as an NFL quarterback.
Honestly, he was thankful for the wait.
“It kind of helped just letting everything settle the first three quarters and then going from there,” Etling said after the Patriots’ 26-17 win over the Washington Redskins at Gillette Stadium. “But it was a pretty surreal feeling.”
Etling made only a brief cameo in his Patriots debut, with Brian Hoyer handling the lion’s share of QB reps. The 2018 seventh-round draft pick led three drives, one of which began at Washington’s 1-yard line after a fumble return by Geneo Grissom, and completed 2 of 5 passes for 21 yards. He also lost a fumble on a botched exchange with running back Mike Gillislee.
“You work your whole life for this moment to run out there and throw your first pass, run your first play, and it was a pretty awesome moment,” Etling said. “The accumulation of a lot of years of hard work and a lot of years hopefully to come of hard work.”
Etling’s up-and-down performance mirrored how he’s fared so far in his first Patriots training camp. The LSU product has shown flashes in practice but also has looked wildly erratic at times, particularly on short passes.
“It’s just kind of a learning process for me,” said Etling, who was able to switch from No. 58 to the more position-appropriate No. 5 before the game. “I’m just trying to improve every day and make sure that I give my coaches confidence that I know what I’m supposed to do and how I’m supposed to do it. Continue to keep progressing that way, and I’ll be successful.”
Starting quarterback Tom Brady dressed but did not play against the Redskins as he reportedly nursed a sore back.
Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images