FOXBORO, Mass. — Jarrett Stidham was imperfect in his first NFL practice open to reporters. But that’s to be expected for the New England Patriots rookie quarterback.
Stidham was 6-of-13 with an interception in team drills during the main portion of the organized team activities session. One of those incompletions was a drop by rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry. Stidham then went 3-of-9 — with three drops — during a side session while veteran players rested after practice. Taking out the drops, Stidham completed 50 percent of his passes. That clearly needs to improve — as does his ability to release the ball faster — and it will.
And Stidham flashed just enough to show why the Patriots invested a fourth-round draft pick in the former Auburn passer. One of those moments was when he dropped a back-shoulder pass over second-year cornerbacks JC Jackson and Duke Dawson to hit Harry for a touchdown. Stidham understandably seems excited to work with the first-round receiver.
“He’s obviously a great player, great person,” Stidham said. “He’s just so big. It’s hard to overthrow him sometimes. He’s just so big. He’ll just go up and get it. He’s going to be a great player. He’s just got to continue to work hard. I think he’s been doing everything he can to do his thing.”
Stidham wore a wide smile on his face after the practice session which saw him donning No. 58 — now a Patriots rookie quarterback tradition — no helmet decal and taking third-team reps behind Brian Hoyer and Danny Etling. Stidham knows he has a lot to learn, but he’s enjoying the process.
“It’s been a lot of fun finally getting to a spot and being here,” Stidham said. “It’s a dream come true. It’s been a lot of learning and a lot of fun, and it’s been great to get to know teammates, coaches, the administration, kind of everyone. It’s been great so far.”
The most difficult transition for Stidham is one all rookie quarterbacks must go through.
“It’s just there’s a gap from college to pro,” Stidham said. “Talking about schematics, defenses, whatever, terminology, it’s an adjustment. But I think I’ve been making progress every day and just trying to do whatever I can to be the best player I can for the team.”
It’s unclear how the Patriots will divvy up quarterback reps when starter Tom Brady reports to the team for mandatory minicamp. He’s skipping voluntary OTAs for the second straight offseason. There are only so many reps to go around for three quarterbacks, let alone four. On top of passing, Etling also worked on the kickoff unit Thursday.