Of all the rookie quarterbacks to take the field last week, Ryan Mallett was by far the most impressive.
Mallett was 12-for-19 for 164 yards and a touchdown, while backing up Brian Hoyer for the Tom Brady-less New England Patriots. There is no question that he was instrumental in the 47-12 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
He's earned a spot on the Patriots roster. Now he's just trying to show what he can do.
Mallett will have another great opportunity to showcase his skills on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The 23-year-old will likely get some reps with the second-team offense and might play a large portion of the second half.
That means he'll be going up against the Buccaneers' second- or third-string defense.
Therefore, he shouldn't have much trouble finding open receivers. He's going to have a great chance to throw to guys like Taylor Price, who are also trying to earn roster spots.
Price had 105 receiving yards in his NFL debut and caught a touchdown pass from Hoyer.
It will be interesting to see how well Mallett clicks with guys like Price, Buddy Farnham and Julian Edelman.
He should already have good chemistry with the lesser-known receivers because of all the time he's spent throwing to them in practice.
Furthermore, guys like Farnham and Price are still fighting for a roster spot, so they'll have that extra motivation to catch passes and make Mallett look good.
Then, there's the Bucs' defense.
As mentioned before, Mallett won't be facing the starters. Instead of Ronde Barber, he'll be throwing against Ashton Youboty, Anthony Gaitor and other young members of the secondary who don't have much experience.
While Mallett doesn't have much experience, he can make up for it with his cannon arm and extra talent.
He's going to make a few mistakes, so don't expect perfection. He is a rookie in his first NFL preseason, after all.
However, if he can avoid interceptions and fumbles, he'll be in good shape to succeed. He has the confidence and the poise to be a strong backup quarterback in 2011 and a good starter in three or four years.
Whether or not he becomes a starter with the Patriots in the future remains to be seen, but there's no reason to think he can't lead the Pats to another lopsided win in the 2011 NFL preseason.
He should show everyone why he should have been a first-round draft pick on Thursday night against the Buccaneers.
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