Jimmy Garoppolo’s Play Has Improved For Patriots, But Mindset Hasn’t Changed


July 28, 2016

FOXBORO, Mass. — Jimmy Garoppolo has come a long way since his first training camp practice two years ago. He went 5 of 10 with an interception in team drills back on July 24, 2014, and he routinely held onto the ball too long and scrambled too often.

Garoppolo, who will start for the New England Patriots in Week 1 with Tom Brady suspended for the first four weeks of the season, went 13 of 19 overall in team drills Thursday. He looked like a starting quarterback.

“Compared to rookie year it?s not even close,” Garoppolo said of his comfort level Thursday on the Patriots’ first day of training camp. “But that just comes with experience, though. Three years in the same offense, same team, same organization, you just get used to things and things come more naturally to you.”

Garoppolo has changed on the field, but his message in front of a microphone hasn’t. Garoppolo was shockingly polished when he was selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, insisting he would prepare every day like he was the starter and not a third-string rookie behind Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett.

“It’s one of those things, if I was coming in as a starter or a backup, I’m going to go in and approach it the same either way,” Garoppolo said way back in 2014. “My mindset is the same as it would be if I was going in as a starter. I’m going to go out there and try to get better each and every day. That’s what good football players do.”

And fast forward two years and two months?

“My mindset really hasn’t changed at all,” Garoppolo said Thursday. “Even my rookie year, compared to this year, my mindset is the same. I’m trying to get out there, take advantage of my opportunities and when I’m in there, play to the best of my ability.

” … However you want to look at it, I’ve been preparing to be the starter since the first day I walked in here, and that’s just the mindset — every competitor has that mindset. It’s a good thing to have.”

This year is different, though Garoppolo won’t admit it.

Garoppolo beat out Mallett for the No. 2 job as a rookie but knew he would sit behind Brady all year. Last offseason, uncertainty swirled around the Patriots with Brady’s playing status up in the air until the start of the regular season. Garoppolo knew there was a chance he would start, but Brady’s suspension was overturned, and he didn’t.

Now, it’s certain. Brady is suspended the first four weeks of the season, and head coach Bill Belichick made it clear Garoppolo — not rookie Jacoby Brissett — will be the starter come Week 1.

“Nothing’s really changed,” Garoppolo said Thursday. “When they put me in for the reps I’m in for, I’ll go out there, do my best and do whatever the coaches ask. The mindset is pretty much the same.”

Garoppolo was asked if he’s nervous, calm or excited to start Week 1. He picked the last one, of course.

“Excited,” Garoppolo said. “I’m excited for Week 1.”

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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