ALLEN PARK — Matt Cassel is getting to know his new Detroit Lions teammates and coaches. It’s been intensified this week through the first two days of mandatory minicamp.
The 36-year-old quarterback, who was signed as a free agent, knows one key person in the organization.
Cassel spent his first five seasons (2005-2009) with the New England Patriots where he got to know Lions head coach Matt Patricia.
“We had a great relationship, he actually ran the scout team when I first got there, we had a lot of time together, we had a lot of fun,,’’ Cassel said on Wednesday. “It’s been a great relationship and that’s one of the main reasons I’m here.’’
Five more things to know about Cassel and the Lions:
1. Patricia remembers him well from their Patriots days. “Matt Cassel, obviously someone that I have a lot of history with, extremely professional guy. Guy’s been in a couple different systems now, very smart. A guy, if I remember this correctly, was actually a captain in college even though the positions and quarterbacks that he had to play behind, so I think that tells you a little what his personality is,’’ Patricia said on Wednesday. “The way, what a teammate he is. His approach, his study, and the respect that he gets from not only the players but the coaches too. So, he’s been great.
2. Last season the Lions only kept two quarterbacks — Matthew Stafford and Jake Rudock — on the 56-man roster. Patricia would not say if carrying three quarterbacks is an option this year. It’s too early to know. Cassel and Rudock will likely battle in training camp for the No. 2 spot.
3. Cassel and Stafford are working on developing a good working relationship. “I think it’s going well, you probably have to ask him he might have a different opinion. We spend a lot of time together, he’s been great, he’s been tremendous, he’s a guy who wants to help out in any manner he can,’’ Cassel said. “That’s really helpful for for a guy coming into a system that I’ve never been a part of before with a lot of elaborate stuff going on.’’
4. Cassel is entering his 14th NFL season which is pretty good for a seventh-round pick. “I feel like you can never become complacent. I’ve always taken that mentality where I was drafted late and had to grind for everything I’ve had,’’ Cassel said. “That’s stuck with me throughout my career and the hard work and determination that continue to push through. At times it’s been tough.’’
5. Patricia still remembers Cassel as a rookie. “You know what? I think the thing about Matt (Cassel) as a young player that people underestimated, and we did defensively definitely, is he’s very athletic. You know, he was much faster than what you thought at the time as a young guy,’’ Patricia said. “Extremely strong arm, you know like everything’s like a fastball. It’s coming out like a baseball pitch, but was very smart, very energetic, great personality. Just a guy that can walk in a room and make everyone smile, go at ease. Great teammate from that standpoint. And as a young guy, he was great at the time for the situation we had back in New England. But really the biggest thing that stands out is his athleticism and his speed. You know, it was pretty impressive back then.”