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Sunday 7: Why what happened at LSU to QB Danny Etling makes him perfect player to backup Tom Brady

Ryan Hannable
May 20, 2018 - 6:00 am

1. No matter who the Patriots drafted at quarterback last month, he was going to be faced with immense pressure in potentially one day succeeding Tom Brady. While Danny Etling, the LSU quarterback selected in the seventh round, may not be that guy, what he went through in college may have prepared him well for what is to come. Etling was essentially benched at Purdue in 2013 and 2014 so he transferred to LSU. After missing the 2015 season due to transfer rules, he was the starter for most of the 2016 season and all of last year, although it didn’t come without some controversy. Some tried to push a quarterback battle between Etling and freshman Myles Brennan last year, but Etling never got involved in the hype and ultimately led the Tigers to the Citrus Bowl against Notre Dame. “It never affected him,” LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger said via phone last week. “If it did affect him, you never saw it. He never brought it into the meeting. He never brought it into practice, he just went out there and did everything he could to help the Tigers win. He never said a negative word about anything. He just wanted to do anything he could to help the team win.” Not everyone has what it takes to be able to play for a team like the Patriots and deal with all the media attention that comes with it, especially at the quarterback position. Even if Etling doesn’t ever challenge Brady for the starting job, there still will be a great deal of attention surrounding him. Regardless, it’s safe to say being involved in a QB controversy at one of the bigger football schools in the country and not batting an eye certainly prepared Etling well for what may come in the coming weeks and even years with the Patriots.

2. Ensminger had great praise for Etling and believes he has the potential to one day be a successful NFL quarterback because of his work ethic. “I think he has the tools,” he said. “I don’t think he will do anything but get better. I think just watching him at his pro day, after going through back surgery and everything else he looked very healthy. He looked quick. He’s faster than everybody realized. I think his release, he’s worked on it a bunch, and it’s a lot quicker than it had been. I think he looks forward to it. I think he will be a sponge up there. He’ll take anything the coach says, or any other player says and try and perfect it.” Another thing he noted was his decision making, which was something Nick Caserio also noted on draft weekend. As a senior, he threw just two interceptions.

3. The Patriots held their rookie minicamp last week and one of the things that was pointed out when the team released photographs and videos were the strange numbers players were wearing, like Etling wearing No. 58. When a few members of the rookie class spoke on Tuesday, it was revealed the team had placed the jerseys in their lockers and they didn’t have any choice. This likely was a message saying everything needs to be earned as a rookie and nothing is given. It does seem likely more normal numbers will be given out for OTAs and especially before training camp.

4. There aren’t too many people on the current Patriots roster that know more about first-round picks Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel than center David Andrews, as he played with them at Georgia. Although it was for only a year, both players stood out to him. "Sony played a lot for us that year and I knew Isaiah would be a good player -- just watching him, he was very natural and stuff like that," Andrews said to reporters this week. "And we kept in touch. We had a big group message with a bunch of linemen, and he was always in there."

5. On Wednesday, Matt Light was named the 2018 inductee to the Patriots Hall of Fame, which was a bit of a surprise from this viewpoint. There’s nothing against Light as he’s certainly deserving, but it seemed like Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour had more on their resumes. It will be interesting in the coming years to see if the organization changes the way it does things and has more than one inductee per year. It will get to the point where it’s nearly impossible to pick just one player.

6. Lane Johnson’s comments towards the Patriots the week, specifically Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft, seemed a bit off. Johnson insinuated the two talked trash about the Eagles prior to the Super Bowl when there’s Sound FX footage of Belichick and Doug Pederson talking and it couldn’t have been any more cordial. The two seem to have a very good relationship and both have a great deal of respect for one another. It will be interesting to see if the teams hold joint practices this summer before the second preseason game, and if that is the case, don’t be surprised if Johnson backs off what he’s said this offseason a bit. 

7. Tuesday will be a big day at Gillette Stadium as the media will get access to the second OTA session of the spring (the first comes on Monday). Obviously the big story will be whether or not Brady and Rob Gronkowski are present, as they haven’t attended any of the offseason workouts to this point. It is also worth noting Belichick will address the media before the session This is somewhat unusual, as he usually doesn’t speak at OTAs and waits until minicamp in June.

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