FOXBORO, Mass. — Jimmy Garoppolo will have 60 minutes in Thursday night’s preseason finale to prove that he deserves to be Tom Brady’s backup.
The New England Patriots’ rookie quarterback has shocked everyone with his success during the preseason, and if he can continue to shine against the New York Giants, the second-round draft pick could knock backup quarterback Ryan Mallett off the roster. Garoppolo has been Brady-esque so far, completing 64.9 percent of his throws for 334 yards with four touchdowns and a 129.8 passer rating. Most importantly, Garoppolo hasn’t turned the ball over yet.
“I’m excited about it,” Garoppolo said Monday at Gillette Stadium about starting Thursday night. “Good opportunity to get out there and get some quality reps. It’s going to be fun.”
Garoppolo wouldn’t say if he came into the summer trying to knock Mallett off the No. 2 quarterback throne.
“I came in with the mindset that I’m gonna practice and study as if I was the starter,” Garoppolo said. “If you want to be a successful starter in this league, you have to take the mental reps, the physical reps and take advantage of your opportunities.”
Garoppolo struggled early in the summer during training camp and had his true breakout moment in the Patriots’ preseason opener against the Washington Redskins. In that game, the rookie completed 9 of 13 passes for 157 yards with one touchdown.
“Yeah, it was definitely a big building block,” Garoppolo said. “Going from there — it’s one of those things, you’re going to have your ups and downs as a rookie, that’s just part of the game. You have to keep gradually improving day-in and day-out, and if you keep doing that, as a rookie, that’s all you can ask for.”
Garoppolo has appeared ready to be Brady’s backup through three preseason games, but even he admits he has a long way to go after just three months in the NFL.
“I’m still a rookie. I have a long way to go, a lot to learn,” Garoppolo said. “The playbook is pretty thick. It’s one of those things, if you keep learning day-in and day-out, you’re on the right track.”