FOXBORO, Mass. — It turns out Danny Etling actually had played wide receiver before shedding his red non-contact jersey Thursday on the first day of New England Patriots training camp.
Patriots backup quarterback Brian Hoyer revealed Friday that Etling’s switch wasn’t so sudden to his teammates.
“Danny’s a great kid. He’s super athletic,” Hoyer said. “He’s willing to do whatever it is to help the team. Probably not a lot of people know this, but going back to last year, he was one of our best scout-team receivers. He did a great job, and I think any time you get a chance to go out on the field, regardless of if it’s special teams, your position, maybe they ask you to play a different position, you do it to the best you can and just show people what you’re capable of doing.
“I think the one thing about Danny that I’ve come to admire over the last year and a half is just he’s such a great kid and such a hard worker, and they said, ‘Hey, move to receiver.’ He moved to receiver, and he’s in there catching jugs in the weight room the other day. That’s just the kind of guy Danny is.”
Etling ran a 4.76-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine last year, but his teammates, including speedster Phillip Dorsett, seem to believe he’s faster.
Etling’s ability to convert to wide receiver could also stem from his desire to learn.
“I think Danny is such a hard worker that he knows how we want the receivers to run the routes from a quarterback perspective, so when he got his opportunity to do it last year, he was doing it,” Hoyer said. “He’s probably the guy who’s paying attention to everything in the meetings. You’re coaching the quarterbacks, you’re coaching the receivers, the running backs. And he listened to that stuff, and he got the opportunity to do it and do it well enough. It’s a guy who’s trying to give everything he has to the team.”
It’s still unlikely Etling impresses enough in training camp and the preseason that he actually makes the Patriots’ 53-man roster as a wide receiver. But it appeared his days were quickly numbered after the Patriots selected Jarrett Stidham in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. His move to wide receiver is enough to keep him around for training camp, and it could earn him a practice squad spot for a second straight year.