Rookie second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo has been a pleasant surprise this preseason. So much so that there has been speculation that should the Patriots keep two quarterbacks, former third-round pick Ryan Mallet would be the odd man out.
For now, Garoppolo, Mallet and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady are all on the roster with Brady, 37, firmly entrenched as the starter for the foreseeable future. Once the regular season starts anyway. Because on Thursday, in the Pats' final preseason game, Garoppolo will make his first start for New England.
"It's just an experience that he needs to go through -- to feel like he’s going to start the game [and] he’s going to be in the game for every situation -- second down, third down, goal-line, red area, two-minute, whatever it is, he has to be prepared for everything and handle whatever it is that comes up,“ coach Bill Belichick said Monday during an appearance on Boston's WEEI, via ESPN.com.
“This is also a week that he’ll have to deal with the media, deal with the production meeting before the game, I’m sure the fans will have plenty of insults for him when he walks out on the field. It’s an away game. It’s all the things that a quarterback eventually will do as a starting quarterback. Whenever that happens, I have no idea, but whenever it does happen, at least he will have done it once before. I think there is something to be learned here. Ryan [Mallett] has been here three-and-a-half years and Tom’s done it a couple hundred times. This is an opportunity for Jimmy to get that experience and I’m sure he’ll learn from it.”
And Garoppolo's performance could go a long way in determining who will be Brady's backup moving forward.
"Even with Jimmy Garoppolo starting Thursday night, Patriots have not yet decided who will be their No. 2 QB," ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted Monday.
But Garoppolo heads into the preseason finale brimming with confidence after a promising performance against the Redskins where he played the entire second half and completed 9 of 13 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown.
“That was definitely a big building block, going from there,” Garoppolo said Monday. “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 just keep gradually improving day in and day out. If you keep doing that, as a rookie, that’s all you can ask for.”