Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett Put On A Good Show In Preseason Debuts

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 29: Quarterbacks Tom Brady #12, Brian Hoyer #8 and Ryan Mallett #15 of the New England Patriots participate in training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 29, 2011 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett put on quite a show in their preseason debuts for the New England Patriots in a 47-12 stomping of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both had great games, but who has the hand up to be the top backup for Tom Brady?

If Tom Brady were to get injured in some freak accident and would never be able to play football again, I'd feel a little better about the Patriots' future under center after what I saw from Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett on Thursday night.

Hoyer and Mallett were electric in the Pats' 47-12 preseason-opening win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, with Hoyer completing 15-of-21 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown and Mallett throwing for 164 yards and a score on 12-of-19 passing.

Were they flawless? No (in fact, Mallett threw an interception, but a penalty on the Jags cancelled it out). Would they do this in a regular season game? Most likely not. But knowing that New England has two capable QBs behind Brady is at the very least comforting.

No one wants to admit it, but Brady's getting older. When football players get older, injuries become more frequent. While it's definitely not a give that Brady will get hurt as his career comes to an end, it is certainly a lot more probable.

The last time Brady went down was in the 2008 season, when Matt Cassel finally got his chance to shine and didn't disappoint. It's not a give that the Patriots would have an equally successful season if Brady went down and either Hoyer or Mallett had to take over, but if the past is an indicator, it's not as worrysome as one might think.

Now, again, this was a preseason game against a team that isn't exactly known as one of the league's premier (or even average) teams. But you can't take back a performance like that from either gunslinger.

Here's where it gets interesting - with both QBs putting up such impressive performances, who has the edge as Brady's top backup? Obviously Hoyer has the edge in service time, but Mallett was once seen as a top tier quarterback in the draft and was once of the best hurlers in all of college football.

The remaining three preseason games, as well as the remaining practices before the regular season begins, will go a long way towards deciding who is quarterback No. 2 and who is No. 3.

No matter how it plays out, it's comforting to know that QB depth isn't an issue.

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