Jimmy Garoppolo's training camp practice sessions at Gillette Stadium didn't exactly do an accurate job of foreshadowing the success he'd see in his first preseason game.
On Thursday night against the Redskins, he went 9-for-13 for 157 yards and one touchdown. He showed good poise in the pocket, he was decisive in his reads, and his touch on deep passes to receiver Brian Tyms was on point.
What Garoppolo displayed was a stark contrast to the player who had trouble handling the snap under center and whose passes often were deflected or found their way into the hands of defenders in practices a week ago.
Though Patriots coach Bill Belichick has seen Garoppolo go through his share of struggles in practice, he didn't seem at all taken aback by the rookie quarterback's apparent sudden transformation.
"Part of practice, as we all know is learning, improving and doing it better the next time," Belichick said. "Particularly young players, just because they made a mistake doesn't necessarily mean those mistakes will continue and always be there. You'd like to think that some of them will be corrected in the second or next time those situations occur, that the reactions or execution will be better. We see that with pretty much every young player, including [Garoppolo]."
As with any player, though, Garoppolo clearly still has plenty of things to improve upon. On his first attempt of the third quarter, he threw a touch behind Justin Jones and the ball bounced off the tight end's hands.
Belichick explained that there are things that the Patriots have seen in practice, mistakes from Garoppolo, that re-appeared last night.
"There were things that came up that we saw the same mistakes on that he's made in the past that still need to be corrected," Belichick said. "They're still on that list of things that, the next time they happen, hopefully they'll be better. I don't think that's unusual. I think that's pretty typical for most young players or most anybody that's starting to do something in a different or higher level for the first time. That's where he is. Some positives. Certainly a lot of things to correct. Some improvement. Some other things that need to be improved. That's the way I saw it."
That Garoppolo has taken to New England's coaching quickly and shown improvements from his earlier work has to be encouraging to Belichick and the rest of his staff.