This is probably not how he planned it.
A quarterback in college, Isaiah Stanbackwas drafted by the Dallas Cowboys and immediately converted to wide receiver. After two unspectacular seasons there, he was let go, but soon thereafter picked up by the Patriots, who asked him to go back to his original position, QB.
However, after spending the first half of the season on New England's practice squad as the de facto third quarterback, injuries at wide receiver forced the Patriots to activate Stanback as the third wideout for the Colts game. He played there again versus the Jets last weekend and will likely be in the lineup again Monday night in New Orleans.
It seems he's picked up the Patriots offense rather quickly.
"I'm learn-ing," he laughed, emphasizing the fact that his is a continuing process.
"But yeah," he acknowledged, "it definitely helps, having to sit in both [position] meetings. It's a nice sized playbook. Definitely, having not been here for the [mini- and training] camps, I'm learning almost every day."
Stanback said he is asked frequently about how his rare two-position situation is helping his growth in the New England offense.
"I think I've benefited more," he observed, "from being able to sit in the meetings with [Tom] Brady and [backup QB Brian] Hoyer and pay attention to what they both see and expect when it comes to certain coverages. As a quarterback, you're in the middle of everything looking out. As a receiver, you're outside looking in. So, things look a lot different. Your perception really has to change."
Like rookie receiver and former college QB Julian Edelman, Stanback has the unique opportunity to see the plays develop from both perspectives. And it helps that he has not only one of the best quarterbacks of all time (Brady), but also one of the NFL's greatest receivers (Randy Moss) to study on a daily basis.
"I learn from everybody. Besides Julian, I think everybody's played receiver longer than I have. Even back in Dallas, rookies had played more than I had," Stanback pointed out.
"Julian's a great guy. Obviously, he learns from Wes, because they have similar skill sets. I'm watching some of the things they do, and I benefit from watching guys like Moss. I just ask questions. If you see something they do that you physically can't do, you try to find a way that you can do it with your skill set."
It's difficult enough to be prepared for one position at this level, but Stanback must be ready to handle two each week. Clearly, however, with the immediate need for him at wide receiver, he's focusing more on that position at the moment.
The way he looks at it, he's just grateful to be in such an advantageous position – or positions.
"I was fortunate even to get drafted, given my injuries in college," he noted, "and then to have to work my way up to play, then kicked back down and not being able to play. I've had a lot of challenges in my life, but I just stayed focused and tried to get in a situation where I could help out."
And that he's doing with the Patriots, more so than even he probably expected.
Banta-Cain shoots the Brees
LB Tully Banta-Cainwas one of the few Patriots who spared a few moments in the locker room to talk with reporters today.
The hot topic: Saints QB Drew Brees, who's been on fire this season.
"He makes quick decisions, he's got a quick release, so it's very tough and frustrating for a lot of defenses, because you can get to him, but he's still getting the ball off," Banta-Cain remarked. "He's throwing into tight places and players are still making the plays."
So, what's the best way to slow down this strong Brees.
"It's a hope-for-the-best kind of thing," Banta-Cain offered. "You can't say, 'Well, we don't want to blitz him,' because now you're allowing him more time to get the ball off. It's just one of those things where you have to execute at a high level. Hopefully, if there's a mistake somewhere on their front five, we can take advantage of it."
Friday practice notes
Only three players were not at practice Friday: rookie WR Julian Edelman, RB Fred Taylor, and rookie LT Sebastian Vollmer.
LB Rob Ninkovich, who injured his right knee against the Colts, was back on the field after missing the last week of practice and the Jets game.
In anticipation of this weekend's game at the Louisiana Superdome, the Patriots took their practice once again indoors at their Dana-Farber Field House. The team worked out in shells and sweatpants.