Ryan Mallett hasn’t had much of a chance to prove himself in the NFL. After serving three years as Tom Brady’s backup in New England, Mallett was traded to the Houston Texans, for whom he will make his first start Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
Mallett, who replaces Ryan Fitzpatrick at starter, has played in just five NFL games, usually wrapping up blowouts. He has thrown four passes for 17 yards and an interception. He is unproven, but he will get a chance to show what he can do in Week 11.
The Texans can look forward to the chance to see Mallett’s throwing arm, which was legendary when he was in high school. Tania Ganguli’s ESPN profile on Mallett describes Mallett’s long bombs in high school:
In high school, [Mallett] threw the ball 88 yards at an Elite 11 camp. Many assumed the wind must have aided him. A few days later, throwing for a magazine story, he made it 86 yards. That time there was no doubt. [Boston Red Sox third basemen Will] Middlebrooks has seen him kneel at midfield and shoot the football through the uprights of the goalpost 60 yards away.
That arm was part of what caused [Mallett’s high school offensive coordinator] to invite Mallett to throw with the varsity team when he was in eighth grade.
Mallett’s arm got recognition in college, too, when ESPN’s Sports Science did a segment on him, concluding his throws could reach speeds of 65 miles per hour.
The Browns are aware of Mallett’s arm and are already preparing. Head coach Mike Pettine said the Browns “know he has a great arm,” adding that they are anticipating deep, downfield shots. Browns running back Ben Tate played for Mallett’s Southeastern Conference rival Auburn in college and also noted the former Arkansas Razorback’s throwing ability, saying: “He’s got a strong arm. Very, very strong arm. He can sling that thing around.”
Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer, who spent a season as a backup in New England with Mallet, upped the praise even more. “Strongest arm I’ve ever seen, and I really do mean that,” he said.
The Texans have two highly talented wide receivers in Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins and a top running back in Arian Foster. If Mallett can combine accuracy with his strength, the Texans offence may be able to put a lot of points on the board Sunday.
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