FOXBOROUGH — Cody Kessler has yet to make a game-day roster during his two brief stints with the Patriots this season.
But to label the club’s third quarterback as inactive would be inaccurate.
The fourth-year veteran can be spotted before pregame warm-ups going through a full workout with assistant quarterbacks coach Mick Lombardi.
Kessler gets limited practice snaps and though he’ll “steal reps” by throwing to some receivers after practice, that’s a time when Lombardi is not around because he is off to meetings. So the pregame tutorials, which Kessler called “huge,” are when he gets his most one-on-one time with Lombardi.
“I’m able to get a full workout with him. We can go over the game plan and stuff for that week and even on the playbook, if I have a question, he’s there to answer it,’’ Kessler said. “He’s been tremendous and he really has helped me out a ton. It means a lot to me.’’
When the game starts, Kessler remains involved. He often can be found kneeling next to Tom Brady as the starter goes over in-game adjustments with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
It has been a bit of a hectic time for Kessler, who was signed Sept. 25, released Oct. 16, and re-signed Oct. 28.
Kessler was working out on his own back in California and had some nibbles from teams before his agent called to let him know the Patriots were signing him after a workout. A day later, instead of sitting in an empty gym, he was sitting next to Brady in the New England locker room.
“That was pretty cool,’’ Kessler said.
Some injuries and a numbers crunch cost Kessler his job — though he had made a great impression on coach Bill Belichick and his staff — and he was brought back when a spot opened after defensive lineman Michael Bennett was traded to the Cowboys.
“I was hoping to come back,’’ said Kessler, who said he understood why he was cut the first time. “So, when guys got healthy and came back and the numbers worked out and I got the call to come back it was a big relief.’’
Kessler had grown attached to One Patriot Place.
“I really wanted to be here, especially having those three weeks and getting to know the guys,’’ he said. “Tom and Jarrett [Stidham] and Josh and Mick, obviously, have been tremendous in helping me out and doing extra stuff to help. But, yeah, it was awesome to come back. First time was a bit of a whirlwind coming in and getting to know everybody. The second time it felt, weirdly enough, like I was coming back home.’’
Waiting for him at his new home was Brady. According to Kessler, no matter what you hear about Brady as a player or a person, it’s impossible to get a clear picture until you spend time with him.
“Tom’s been great. In my opinion, he’s been the best teammate I’ve ever been around — probably my whole career,’’ the 26-year-old Kessler said. “He has that contagiousness where you want to be around him. Guys gravitate toward him and he’s just such a leader on and off the field. Just a laid-back guy, but at the same time a guy that works harder than anyone I’ve ever seen. It’s cool for me and Jarrett to get to learn from him and kind of take things here and there. I’ve been jotting down little notes about little things that he does, and I’ve been picking his brain a little bit.’’
Kessler will spend his extended weekend going over those notes and keeping his nose in the playbook.
The mood was light — and “Forever Mine” from The O’Jays blared — in the locker room on getaway day after the Patriots conducted their only practice of the week Wednesday afternoon. Only tight end Ben Watson and safety Patrick Chung missed the full-pads session, though Chung, who has been dealing with heel and chest injuries, was with teammates in the locker room. The club isn’t required to file an injury report this week . . . Players will return Monday to start preparations for their trip to Philadelphia Nov. 17. New England then plays host to Dallas, travels to Houston for Thanksgiving weekend, and hosts Kansas City, as the toughest stretch of its schedule rolls on. Receiver Phillip Dorsett said the opponent isn’t the concern right now. The priority is cleaning up their own play. “It gets tougher down the road,’’ he said. “Teams get a lot of film on you. But it doesn’t really matter about the team we’re actually playing. At the end of the day, we’ve go to come out and do our job. We’ve got to go out there and execute as an offense and play our own game.’’
Jim McBride can be reached at email@example.com.