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Hannable: Why this week was so important for Jimmy Garoppolo

Ryan Hannable
October 13, 2017 - 10:18 pm

FOXBORO — This could prove to be one of the biggest weeks of the season for Jimmy Garoppolo.

It’s hard to imagine considering it’s just a Week 6 matchup with the Jets as a backup quarterback, but Tom Brady missed practice Tuesday and Wednesday with an injured left shoulder, and was limited on Thursday. 

Then, with the team releasing practice squad quarterback Taylor Heinicke earlier in the week, this left Garoppolo as the only healthy quarterback on the roster and therefore a ton of work.

“Definitely more reps [this week],” Garoppolo said to WEEI.com Friday. “Losing Taylor too, that is just how it went. I’ve done it before, so nothing I wasn’t used to.”

The fourth-year quarterback ran both the scout team and the first-team offense Tuesday and Wednesday with Brady out, and it was clear he enjoyed these days.

“Yeah, no doubt,” Garoppolo said. “Whenever you get to run with the first team and get more reps than usual, you have to take advantage of it.”

Added Garoppolo: “It’s fun. The more reps you get the better. It’s only going to help me. It’s tiring, but it was a good experience.”

Based on the talk in the locker room after practice Thursday, Garoppolo did a pretty good job.

“Oh, he good. Jimmy good,” an unnamed player told NBC Sports Boston’s Mike Giardi.

Even at 40 years old, Brady hates missing practices and was a full participant Friday, thus taken off the injury report. So, even with a banged up shoulder it doesn’t appear like he will need to miss multiple sessions again next week. Therefore, this week could be the only time, if not one of the few times, Garoppolo gets to work with the first-team offense on an extensive basis the entire season.

With this being his fourth year in the league, he already knows what it takes to play in the NFL, especially starting two games last year. He isn’t a first or second-year player where just being around Brady he can get better and learn what it takes to be a professional quarterback. In order for him to get better and improve, he needs to play, and play with players of the same caliber as he is.

A typical week of running the scout team just isn’t going to come close to helping him grow and get better as a week of working with the entire first-team offense. Working behind Brady for as long as he has, Garoppolo definitely enjoys weeks like this.

Weeks like this also aren’t the worst thing in the world for the Patriots when it comes to their evaluation and development of Garoppolo. By all accounts, the organization still views him as its quarterback following Brady. It has all the control after the season when he becomes a free agent as it can place the franchise tag on him and buy another year for he and Brady to be on the same roster. Having Garoppolo so active in practices like this week gives Bill Belichick and the rest of the coaching staff a better look at him to not only reaffirm he’s the quarterback of the future, but also help with his development and see what he needs to get better at.

Some of these things just don’t come up when running the scout team offense, or working with second and third stringers in training camp. These opportunities rarely occur given Brady’s toughness and competitiveness, so when they do, Garoppolo knows he needs to not only enjoy it, but fully take advantage.

And based on the responses, he certainly did and gave both he and the team confidence for the future.

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