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Before Cassel, there was Jay Schroeder

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
That a career quarterback is making his first NFL start without ever getting one in college is unprecedented -- but barely.

ESPN's research department has checked every file known to man and can't find anybody who has been in Matt Cassel's position. He will be the New England Patriots' quarterback Sunday against the New York Jets because Tom Brady is done for the year.

Cassel hasn't started since a 1999 prep playoff game for Chatsworth High in California. That will be a span of 3,217 days between starts.

If not for one quarter at UCLA, Jay Schroeder might've endured a similar wait.

He took over the Washington Redskins' offense when Lawrence Taylor infamously inflicted Joe Theismann with a more serious leg-buckling injury in 1985. Schroeder started the next week for the first time in nearly five years and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-23.

Schroeder started one game at UCLA -- against Oregon State in 1980 -- and got pulled early in the second quarter after completing five of his 10 passes for 120 yards. Prior to that, he hadn't started since he was at Palisades High, the same school that beat Cassel in his last start.

Schroeder abandoned football to play baseball in the Toronto Blue Jays system. In 1984, he entered the NFL draft. Even though he hadn't taken a snap in years, the Redskins selected him 83rd overall.

He finished the 1985 season with a 4-1 record as a starter, but the Redskins failed to make the playoff with a 10-6 record. He led them to a 12-4 mark and the playoffs in his first full season as a starter and went to the Pro Bowl.