FOXBOROUGH (AP) - When Tom Brady was hurt in the 2008 opener and missed the rest of the season, Matt Cassel was ready to step in for the New England Patriots.
If Brady gets hurt again, his replacement doesn't seem as obvious, not after his two backups shared all the snaps in the Patriots latest preseason game.
Second-year pro Ryan Mallett had better numbers than Brian Hoyer, Brady's primary backup the past three seasons, in Monday night's 27-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. But both were burdened by inconsistent protection.
Mallett started and completed 10 of 20 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. Hoyer went 5 for 17 for 55 yards with two sacks for the Patriots (No. 2 in the AP Pro32).