BOSTON (CBS) — For a backup quarterback in the NFL, chances are the only time you get to showcase your abilities comes in the preseason.

That’s been the case for Patriots backup Ryan Mallett, who is heading into his fourth season with New England after being drafted in the third round in 2011.

After putting up monster numbers at Arkansas (72 touchdowns and 7,879 passing yards in three seasons), Mallett was considered to be a first-round talent. Instead, some off-the-field issues caused him to slip to the Patriots, and he’s thrown just four passes in the NFL.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said earlier this week that Mallett will get the majority of the snaps in the preseason, so his time to shine begins Thursday night against the Redskins.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to be able to play a lot,” Mallett said Wednesday after the Patriots and Redskins completed their week of joint practices. “I haven’t really gotten too many chances during the regular season because I have a pretty good guy in front of me. Any time I get to play, I look forward to it.”

Mallett has played in just four games over his three years in the NFL, with all of his action coming late in games when the outcome was already decided. But he’s never given thought to what could have been had he been drafted by a team that didn’t have a future Hall of Famer under center, and has instead used the opportunity to learn everything he can.

“You’ve got to put up with him,” Mallett joked about Brady. “Tom’s great. I tell people all the time that I feel like he’s my older brother. We joke around, mess around and then we know when it’s time to be serious. It’s a lot of fun.”

Mallett says he’s worked hard every day he’s been in the league to improve his game, and over the offseason he worked with Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald when the All Pro needed a quarterback to throw to him.

“I feel really good right now,” he said of his game. “I’m seeing stuff pretty well so it’s definitely slowed down. It’s happens over time. I’m happy it’s finally doing that.”

Mallett’s future is uncertain, especially after the Patriots drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round just a few months ago. But Mallett is just focused on showing what he can do against the Redskins.

“I live day-to-day, man. I’m happy where I’m at right now,” he said. “I’m having a blast. I’m on a great team, I have a great organization around me. My teammates are awesome. [The future] doesn’t cross my mind; I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help the team every day.

“You can’t control what you can’t control. It’s the uncontrollable. You have to deal with it,” he said. “I was dealt the hand I was dealt, so I’m playing cards.”

And come Thursday night, he’ll get the chance to play some football.

Tune in to Patriots-Redskins Thursday night at 7:30pm on WBZ-TV and 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship stations of the New England Patriots. Pregame coverage begins on 98.5FM at 4:30pm, with three hours of postgame analysis following the game. WBZ-TV gets things started with a special edition of Patriots GameDay at 7pm, following by Patriots 5th Quarter after the game.


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