FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots quarterbacks have thrown seven interceptions through the first two days of training camp. A disproportionate number of those have come on throws by Jimmy Garoppolo.
Garoppolo, the Patriots’ No. 2 QB behind Tom Brady, was picked off five times (one in positional 4-on-4 drills and four more in team 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s) over the first two camp practices, including three times on Friday. Meanwhile, third-stringer Jacoby Brissett has thrown two interceptions, and Brady has yet to turn the ball over.
What’s been the reason for Garoppolo’s uncharacteristically erratic performances? The 25-year-old attempted to explain that after Friday’s practice.
First off, Garoppolo said some of the passes he throws in a training camp setting are ones he wouldn’t attempt in a game, a strategy that sometimes yields unfavorable results.
“You always try to do the right thing in practice,” said Garoppolo, who threw interceptions on back-to-back passes Thursday during 7-on-7 drills. “But practice is also that time, especially in training camp, (where) you give a guy an opportunity that you maybe wouldn’t in the regular season. It’s a time to gain trust in your teammates and give guys an opportunity.”
That includes determining which receivers are comfortable with and capable of making certain types of catches.
“A jump ball, for example, or a back shoulder,” Garoppolo explained. “Both of those are difficult catches. You try to see which guys — I mean, the guys who have been here for a while, you moreso know what they can do and can’t do than new guys. You just try to learn your teammates the best you can right now.”
To that point, two of Garoppolo’s picks did come on passes to newcomers (tight end Dwayne Allen and wide receiver Austin Carr). The other three were intended for fullback James Develin and receivers Chris Hogan and Devin Lucien, all of whom were around last season.
Garoppolo didn’t chalk all of his miscues up to experimentation, though. Some simply were the result of poor decision-making. His final interception Friday was made possible by a highlight-reel play by cornerback Eric Rowe, who wrestled the ball away from Lucien in the corner of the end zone.
Rowe has been a thorn in Garoppolo’s side this week, picking off two of his passes and breaking up two others.
“I mean, every (interception) is different,” Garoppolo said. “I wouldn’t say they’re all in one category or the next. But whenever you throw an interception, whether it’s when you’re testing something out or giving a guy a chance, you never want to throw the interception in the first place.”
Despite his high interception total, Garoppolo has been far from awful so far in camp. He finished Day 2 strong, completing 11 of his final 13 passes after Rowe’s takeaway.
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