FOXBORO, Mass. — In an alternate universe, Jimmy Garoppolo started the first four weeks of the season and — after beginning the year 4-0 and ripping apart NFL defenses — there’s suddenly a quarterback controversy brewing with the New England Patriots.
Of course, in this universe, things did not work out that way for the Patriots backup. Tom Brady’s four-game suspension was vacated and Garoppolo is relegated to backup duties, which include scout-team reps and taking a knee in the final snaps of blowout wins.
Garoppolo’s job is slightly more complicated this week, since the Patriots aren’t sure who will be starting at quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. Matt Hasselbeck has started the Colts’ last two games as Andrew Luck deals with a shoulder injury. Luck is expected to play this week, however, and was limited in practice Wednesday.
“Little bit,” Garoppolo told NESN.com when asked if his job as scout-team quarterback is harder this week. “They’re pretty similar quarterbacks, for the most part. Luck’s obviously a little more mobile. The offense doesn’t change very much from one to the other for the most part.”
Garoppolo changes his approach in practice reps while going against the Patriots’ first-team defense based on what his coaches ask. Garoppolo, who ran a 4.97-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine last year, doesn’t move as well as Luck, but he’s proven he can roll out of the pocket during preseason action and training camp reps. He’s one of the few backup quarterbacks in the NFL with the size, athleticism and accuracy to imitate a quarterback like Luck.
“Luck’s as fast as they come,” Garoppolo said. “He’s a big dude who can move. Hasselbeck’s not so much, but you’ve got to do your homework on both of them.
“It’s whatever the defensive coaches want. Whoever they’ll tell me to be, I’ll be. I’ll do my best impersonation of them.”
Garoppolo earned practice player of the week honors last November after imitating Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in practice. After performing double duty as Luck and Hasselbeck this week, perhaps Garoppolo will again don a black jersey next week during Patriots practices.
Thumbnail photo via Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports Images
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