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QB Easton Stick on starting for Chargers: 'I understand North Dakota State is not the National Football League, but I'm used to winning'

The last time Easton Stick started a football game: Jan. 5, 2019, when the North Dakota State Bison knocked off the Eastern Washington Eagles.

That streak ends Thursday, when Stick starts in place for the injured Justin Herbert -- who was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday -- against the Las Vegas Raiders in prime time.

"Obviously, this isn't how I envisioned it," Stick said, via the Los Angeles Times. "When they selected me five years ago, this is what you want as a kid -- an opportunity to go play. I'm excited for that."

The Chargers selected Stick in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft as a young developmental backup behind Philip Rivers. A year later, they drafted Herbert in the first round, sealing Stick's fate as a forever backup in L.A.

Compiling a 49-3 record at FCS North Dakota State, Stick took two total NFL snaps and attempted one pass before relieving Herbert in the second quarter of Sunday's loss to Denver. Now he's got a chance to start the final four weeks for the Chargers.

"Ultimately, it's football," Stick said. "Look, I understand North Dakota State is not the National Football League, but I'm used to winning. I only know one way. This is a production business, and I understand that."

Stick finished Sunday's loss with 13 of 24 passing for 179 passing yards with no touchdown passes and no interceptions. After struggling mightily out of the gate in relief, Stick settled down as the game wore on. He heaved a gorgeous deep shot to rookie Quentin Johnston, leading the Chargers' only score of the day.

Stick knows that with getting the start Thursday against Maxx Crosby and a Raiders defense that will undoubtedly pressure the QB, he can't try to be Herbert.

"I'm just going to go out there and play," Stick said. "There's going to be good, and there's going to be bad. … That's just part of it. It's football. It's not perfect. I'm just going to go out there and do my best."

In the Year of the Backup Quarterback, Stick is the latest to play a vital role in the 2023 season. Could he shine like Jake Browning in prime time? Or will the QB, who has mostly collected dust for more than 1,800 days, struggle in the Chargers' offense?

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