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Matt Cassel knows what Brandon Weeden is about to go through

Matt Cassell stepped in for an injured Tom Brady in 2008 and led the Patriots to a 11-5 record. Stew Milne/US Presswire

IRVING, Texas -- On the 16th snap of the New England Patriots' season in 2008, Matt Cassel took over for an injured Tom Brady.

The Dallas Cowboys' newest quarterback knows exactly what the Cowboys’ newest starting quarterback, Brandon Weeden, is feeling as he gets ready to take over for an injured Tony Romo.

Cassel went 10-5 as the Patriots’ starter, but New England’s 11-5 record was not good enough to make the playoffs. The Cowboys hope Weeden can function as well as Cassel, who had 22 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions in 2008, did for Brady.

“I think you just got to keep your focus on the task at hand,” Cassel said. “Obviously Brandon is a very talented quarterback and you’ve seen him play last week and he did a great job and he throws a tremendous ball and now for him it’s just going out and playing. We’ve got all the tools around him. We’ve got a great offensive line, obviously the skill players and everything else. If you can just maintain your focus and focus on the task at hand instead of listening to everything else going on in the outside, I think he’ll play great.”

Cassel took part in his first practice with the Cowboys on Thursday. His early-morning flight out of Buffalo was delayed two hours and prevented him from getting to practice on Wednesday. He was at Valley Ranch into the evening with the coaches and will spend more time at the complex as he attempts to learn the system quickly.

“Right now, I’m just coming in trying to learn a new playbook,” Cassel said. “There’s a lot to get done obviously. It was explained to me that Brandon is the starter, and I’m going to support him in any way I can, help the team in any capacity they want me to. At the same time, I’m going to try to learn the playbook and see how far I can move along and how quickly I can move along [so] if an opportunity does come up, I’m ready to play.”

Cassel spent the first two weeks of the season as the Bills’ backup quarterback. He played only four series in the preseason. He has some familiarity with the Cowboys’ scheme having played for Norv Turner last year with the Minnesota Vikings.

“Sometimes it’s about wiping your head and start with a clean slate of all those old terminologies,” Cassel said, “because words carry over and also protections carry over and at the same time what you have to do is just kind of go in there and learn it all from square one and understand what they’re trying to get done.”

Cassel’s father, Greg, who died in 2008, grew up a Cowboys fan in Lubbock, Texas. His brothers and sister sent him text messages after the trade became official that said, “he’s looking down on me with a smile on his face and I know he would be.”

“It’s great to be wanted,” Cassel said. “It’s been a childhood dream of mine to be a Cowboy honestly … I grew up a Dallas Cowboy fan all my life. So to actually have it come true finally and actually be here is a dream come true, and I’m really excited about it.”

The next step is getting his family to Dallas. His wife, Lauren, is 36 weeks pregnant with the couple’s fourth child. He has two daughters (Quinn, Ella) and a son (Matthew Jr.).

“She’s a trooper,” Cassel said. “So the two oldest are girls so they kind of understand what was going on and as soon as I said, ‘They’ve got cheerleaders,’ they were super excited about it.”