Vincent Carchietta/USA Today Sports

Sunday 7: Why did practice squad QB Danny Etling travel to Jacksonville, and what did he get out of it?

Ryan Hannable
September 23, 2018 - 6:00 am

1. It was interesting to see practice squad quarterback Danny Etling on the field prior to last week’s game in Jacksonville. Typically, practice squad players do not travel to away games, although the team did it a few years back with Jacoby Brissett when he was on injured reserve. “It was a good learning experience,” Etling said this week. “It was something I enjoyed and was grateful for the opportunity to do. I was able to learn a lot along the way.” Etling also went into detail on what he was able to learn. “Game day routine,” he said. “You get to go to a new stadium, think about if you were the starter how would you prepare to play in the game, how would you deal with traveling and also continue to not waste time — mentally prepare yourself to play in a game. It’s obviously different than college, so it was a cool thing to get out there and experience.” Etling said he didn't know whether or not this would be a season-long thing, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the field Sunday night in Detroit. Reasons for Etling traveling are the quarterback position is a lot different than most when it comes to how much can be learned prior to a game on the road, and also Bill Belichick and the coaching staff seem to like the rookie a lot.

2. While it was a different experience for Etling to travel to a game knowing he wasn’t going to play, he did note he’s done it before. “Well, when I transferred from Purdue [to LSU] initially, I had to sit out one year. I wasn’t even actually allowed on the sidelines then, so I was scout team quarterback and just trying to learn the offense as best as I could without getting any reps at it,” he said. “It’s something I have kind of had to do before, but being a four-year starter at a college is little bit different. This is the first year I am eligible and I am not the starter. You don’t expect anything, but you want to continue to work and find ways to improve yourself with maybe less reps or not with an entire game plan focused on you. It’s different and I think just being around and getting to watch what the two great guys in front of me do and prepare the way they do has been really helpful.”

3. Tom Brady’s answers about Josh Gordon this week — prior to Monday Night Football with Jim Gray and also Friday at Gillette Stadium — were not very in-depth and didn't give off much excitement about his new wide out. This could be nothing against Gordon, but rather he is frustrated with all the receivers that have come in and out over the last several weeks. Even though it’s the regular season, Brady has had to take time out of his preparation to get to know new receivers and more often than not they have been gone the next week. At 41 years old, it can be seen why he would be frustrated having time taken away from preparing for the next opponent. 

4. Speaking of Gordon, much was made of Belichick not acknowledging the trade until Thursday in segment with Scott Zolak for, and although it was frustrating, it can be seen why (at least until Wednesday): Gordon hadn’t even been in the building and passed a physical. Given the former Browns wide out's troubles, it can be understood why Belichick would not want to comment on the player until he was able to meet with him and then have him pass a physical. If he didn't pass the physical, the trade likely would have been voided. It’s also worth noting he was traded, he didn’t just sign with the team, so the Patriots may not have even known what Gordon’s feelings were about joining the organization.

5. The list of members of the Lions organization who have spent time with the Patriots is quite extensive: Matt Patricia (head coach), Bob Quinn (vice president and GM), LeGarrette Blount (running back), Matt Cassel (backup quarterback), Marquis Flowers (linebacker), Ricky Jean Francois (defensive lineman), Tavon Wilson (safety), Jeff Davidson (offensive line coach), George Godsey (quarterbacks coach), Steve Gregory (defensive assistant), Harold Nash (strength and conditioning coach). There will be lots of players catching up on the field prior to the game.

6. The media gets to see a limited portion of practice each day (usually 10-15 minutes), which includes stretching and sometimes individual drills. This week the defensive linemen were working right in front of where the media was standing and it was interesting to watch martial arts expert Joe Kim working with the linemen on their techniques with rushing the passer. He was hired as a consultant in the offseason and it seems he’s stuck around for the season as well.

7. After Sunday, the Patriots will enjoy a month at home as their next road game isn’t until Oct. 21 in Chicago. New England will host Miami in Week 4, Indianapolis on Thursday night in Week 5 and then get some extra time to prepare for Kansas City on Sunday Night Football in Week 6. If things continue the way they have for the Chiefs, that game could be one of the more anticipated ones of the season.

Related: Patriots downgrade 3 players to out vs. Lions