Before Sunday, the last time Nick McDonald played center in an NFL game was this past preseason, when he was with Green Bay.
After being cut by the Packers, he was immediately picked up by New England, where he'd been on the practice squad until this past Saturday, when he was called up to the active roster, then called on to start against the Indianapolis Colts.
McDonald already had some family and friends coming to visit and attend the game, but he waited till they arrived to break the news to them that he wouldn't be sitting with them.
At first, they didn't believe him.
"They were kind of shocked," McDonald, a California native, recalled with a chuckle.
"They were all pretty excited about what happened. They had no idea till they came up, which was kind of cool. I got to tell them that."
The second-year player from Grand Valley State admitted that he even surprised himself.
"I guess how I handled it," he said of his NFL regular season debut. "I think I handled everything the way I'm supposed to, the way we're trained to.
"Need a lot of improvement, obviously," he added, "but, overall, I think I stepped up. Obviously, I have two awesome players next to me – [All-Pro guards Logan] Mankins and [Brian] Waters – so, that helps."
He had help, for sure, but considerable responsibility was placed in McDonald's hands. As the center, he is charged with making all the offensive line calls before the snap, and, of course, snapping the ball to Tom Brady – the fourth Patriot to be given that role this season due to injuries to the previous three.
"Tom expects the same from everybody," McDonald noted. "He didn't treat me any different, which is good. I just went out there and did what I had to do."
"He did a real good job. Thought he did a real good job," head coach Bill Belichick repeated for emphasis, "for not really having any reps with the first group, and just getting in this week and getting the exchanges with Tom, Logan and Brian working next to him, the combination of blocks … thought he did a real good job."
It remains unclear how long McDonald will have the job, though. The man he replaced, Ryan Wendell, was active for the game, but did not play significant minutes due to a calf injury. And Wendell was only one week removed from his first-ever start at center (he'd started a pair of games at guard last season), a role he'd assumed after Dan Connolly was limited by a groin problem.
No matter to McDonald. He insists he'll continue to do what he's been doing to get to this point.
"I just got to keep working hard," he said, "in the weight room, film study, know what I'm doing and just be prepared."
Asked about the weekend release of second-year wide receiver Taylor Price, Belichick was reluctant to divulge details, other than to say things "just didn't work out" between him and the team.
Price wasn't out of work long, however. He was claimed off waivers by the Jacksonville Jaguars this afternoon.