JACKSONVILLE - Clayton Thorson has youth basketball to thank for his bounce-back performance Thursday night.
Thorson was terrible in his NFL debut last week.
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He was much, much better this time around. MUCH better.
It takes a lot of mental toughness to be able to bounce back from a passer rating of 0.0.
Thorson showed he has it.
I think back to AAU basketball when you played eight games in a day," Thorson said. "Well, probably four games in a day. You had to come back and keep playing, keep playing, so I learned that at a young age, thankfully, and that's just grown over the years, and obviously that's something on this stage I need to do.
Thorson was 2-for-7 for 7 yards and an interception against the Titans.
He was 16-for-26 for 175 yards, a touchdown and an INT on his final throw that wasn't his fault Thursday night against the Jaguars at TIAA Stadium.
A world of difference.
I think I knew what to expect more," he said. "Last week, playing my first NFL game, I was just real excited. So I think coming out here I knew what to expect. I mentally prepared all week. Never like to come in that way but you've got to make the most of our opportunities, so it was nice to play a little bit.
Thorson looked poised, confident and comfortable, leading the Eagles on TD drives of 58, 87 and 90 yards and also a field goal drive.
With Nate Sudfeld and Cody Kessler out indefinitely, Sudfeld with a broken wrist and Kessler with a concussion he suffered early Thursday night, the rookie fifth-round pick from Northwestern is now the No. 2.
I've got a great support system around me and these quarterbacks really picked me up," Thorson said. "(They said), ‘Look, that was your first NFL game, it's all right,' and that helps a lot. Just go back and just work. You know? Get back in the building and just keep going. As a quarterback, you have to stay in the moment. If I had dwelled on that, I would have come out here and played terrible. So you just keep going and keep working.
Thorson's two longest plays came on fourth downs - a 38-yard touchdown to receiver Greg Ward and a 25-yard strike to tight end Will Tye. He also had a sweet 3rd-and-7 thread-the-needle to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.
He completed passes to 12 different receivers.
Got more than just 15 snaps and played a bunch and got in a little rhythm and got a feel for the game," he said. "Doing it the second time, having a week under my belt to prepare mentally for that I just felt much more comfortable … It gives me more confidence going forward and just allows me to go into next week with more confidence.
Thorson still has a long way to go before the Eagles are confident enough in him to play him in a real game, but this was a positive step, an encouraging step and an important step.
He just has to keep it going.
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