FOXBORO, Mass. — This season has been a bit of a roller-coaster for New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who went from fill-in starter to injured observer to backup in the span of just a few weeks.

Garoppolo has been firmly entrenched as New England’s No. 2 quarterback ever since Tom Brady returned from his Deflategate suspension in Week 5, throwing just three passes over three garbage-time appearances. Only a significant injury to Brady would thrust Garoppolo back into the spotlight, but some recent developments have altered the third-year pro’s day-to-day routine.

As Patriots coach Bill Belichick explained Friday, Garoppolo has seen an uptick in practice reps of late as Brady nurses a nagging thigh injury originally sustained during a Week 10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Brady has missed four practices and has been limited in several others as New England looks to keep him fresh for the postseason.

With Brady occasionally unavailable, the Patriots have relied more on Garoppolo, even with rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett now back in the mix after being activated off injured reserve.

“The past couple of weeks, that’s also been a function of Tom’s availability,” Belichick said. “There have been a few times here in the last two or three weeks where Jimmy’s probably gotten more reps than he has gotten all year since the (Week 5) Cleveland game. There have been practices where he’s taken literally every snap like he did prior to Arizona or prior to Miami (in Weeks 1 and 2).

“So as it’s worked out, he’s actually gotten more work, and that’s actually helped us with Jacoby, too, by having two quarterbacks instead of just one if he wouldn’t have been available.”

The Patriots officially removed Brissett from IR last Wednesday. Since then, the third-round draft pick has juggled numerous responsibilities, including helping recently acquired wide receiver Michael Floyd acclimate to the Patriots’ offense.

“Jacoby can do some other things in practice, too,” Belichick said. “There’s things he can do to help the defense, and there’s times where he’ll take individual receivers and work with them. We try to use everybody that’s available and figure out a way to be productive.”

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images