FOXBORO, Mass. — Bye week? Not for Cody Kessler.
While many New England Patriots players scattered to different corners of the country during their long weekend off, Kessler remained in Foxboro and was a frequent visitor to Gillette Stadium. When you’re a third-string quarterback who’s already been released once, downtime isn’t high on the priority list.
“I’m from California, so it’s kind of pointless to go back anyways,” Kessler said Monday after the team reconvened for its first post-bye practice. “You’re there and then right back. No, I stayed out here the whole time with my dog. I came in (to the facility) and got some workouts in and kept studying my playbook and everything and kept diving into that.”
Learning that playbook is an ongoing endeavor for Kessler, but one he’s thankful to be able to continue.
The 26-year-old is in his second stint with the Patriots, the first having ended after the team suffered a litany of injuries during a Thursday night win over the New York Giants last month. Tight end Matt LaCosse and fullback Jakob Johnson both went down during that game, prompting New England to sign Ben Watson and Eric Tomlinson, which pushed Kessler off the roster.
Kessler, who’s started games for the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars and spent this summer with the Philadelphia Eagles, floated in free agency for two weeks before receiving the call he’d been hoping for. The Patriots, now with an available roster spot after trading defensive end Michael Bennett to the Dallas Cowboys, wanted him back. He re-signed Oct. 28.
“Talking to my agent, obviously, with all the injuries after that Thursday night game, I understood the situation with the guys — freak accidents,” Kessler said. “It is the NFL, and things happen. But I was hoping. I was hoping. I was hopeful. I kept working out and was hoping I would get to come back here. …
“I just went home, threw, worked out and kept training. I was back home and just talking to my agent each day, in his ear like, ‘Hey, man, let me know if you hear anything.’ Because when I left, it was all positive (from the Patriots) like, ‘Hey, (it’s) nothing you’ve done, unfortunate situation’ — things like that, which I understood. But for the short time I was here the first time, this place had a huge impact on me. It was somewhere that I wanted to be and saw myself and wanted to be a part of, so I was lucky enough to get the call back.”
Kessler’s status on the Patriots’ roster hasn’t changed. He’s still QB3 behind starter Tom Brady and rookie backup Jarrett Stidham and likely won’t even be active for a game unless one of those two signal-callers suffers an injury. His job is simple: Do whatever’s asked of him to get New England’s defense prepared each week and learn the offense as quickly as possible — a task that he admits is easier said than done.
“I’m definitely picking up where I left off,” said Kessler, who takes part in hour-long throwing sessions with assistant quarterbacks coach Mick Lombardi before each Patriots game. “I’m still learning this offense, and it is a very complex (system) with Josh (McDaniels) and Tom, how long they’ve been together, how deep this offense is. It’s one of the more difficult offenses to learn I’ve been a part of, so that’s been my focus right now.
“Obviously, at practice, I’m doing anything I can to help, whether it’s throwing, doing different things for the defense, giving looks and doing stuff like that week in and week out, but my biggest thing has been studying this offense and learning this offense so when we talk in meetings and we talk on the field — obviously not getting the reps, but being able to talk the same language and understand what’s going on. The second time around, that’s something I’ve been focusing a lot more on.”
Thumbnail photo via Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports Images