Garoppolo making an early impression on teammates

Garoppolo making an early impression on teammates
June 6, 2014, 9:00 am
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FOXBORO -- He carried himself like a pro. He flashed good footwork. His release was as quick as advertised.

Jimmy Garoppolo looked every bit the part an NFL quarterback during Thursday's OTA -- even if it was the look of a backup NFL quarterback.

Thursday served as the first opportunity for media members to have a peek at New England's second-round pick in action after he missed Friday's OTA session last week to attend an NFLPA event in Los Angeles.

The snapshot reporters saw of Garoppolo painted a picture of inconsistency, as might be expected for any rookie drafted only four weeks prior.

* Garoppolo showed good touch and a crisp release in drills with receivers and backs during one early stretch of practice working against minimal defense.

* Later in the session, he got cold in red-zone work. The ball appeared to slip coming out of his hand on a couple of occasions, and he put on a pair of gloves at one point to help his grip.

* One other noticeable Garoppolo red-zone incompletion came when there was some kind of miscommunication after the snap. His short attempt to the right side of the field hit the turf with no receiver in the vicinity of the throw.

* At the end of practice, Garoppolo floated a ball down the middle of the field that was picked off by linebacker Chris White.
 
A few things to consider when looking at Garoppolo's day Thursday:

First, the poor weather conditions made it a challenging day for everyone on the offense. Dropped passes were frequent, and the timing of routes could have been affected by receivers trying to find their footing. (Danny Amendola fell down mid-route going up against air at the end of the session.) Plus, accuracy issues cropped up for all the quarterbacks. Tom Brady threw a pick to Brandon Browner at the end of the OTA, and Ryan Mallett threw two interceptions during the two-minute drill.

The second caveat for Garoppolo's performance? It was just one day of work. Everyone from Bill Belichick to Josh McDaniels to Garoppolo himself has admitted in recent weeks that the Eastern Illinois product has a lot of work to do before he gets up to speed in the pro game. His performance in one OTA session means very little in the grand scheme of things.

And while it was the first day reporters saw Garoppolo in person, it was not his first session with teammates. A handful of Patriots sang the young quarterback's praises after Thursday's session.

"I'll tell you, he shocked me, man," Stevan Ridley said. "He came in and he was confident. He is a rookie, though. Everybody's going to make mistakes, but he's quiet, and he has been working hard.

"I think he is going to be leading the rookie class that's coming in here. I didn't know too much about him [when he was drafted], but as I watched him, I like him. He's a rookie quarterback: Don't say too much, take it in, go out there and do your job.

"He's got two great guys in front of him. One of the best quarterbacks in the league and Ryan Mallett. So he's got guys he can turn to and learn from."

Garoppolo has made a positive impression on his new receivers as well.

"He's a smart player," Amendola said. "He's coming in with -- I don't know if they ran the same offense in college or what, but he's picked up the system really well. I know he's putting his time and his work getting in the books. He's been doing good so far."

Amendola added: "It's one thing to throw the ball and be able to make the plays on your feet and stuff, but to actually control 10 other guys and get them where they need to be is a huge part of playing the quarterback position. He's learning from the best with Tom and [Mallett]."

Studying hard is the standard for quarterbacks in New England, and Garoppolo seems to have grasped that part of his job early. In that way, Julian Edelman said, Garoppolo reminds him of the two veteran signal-callers he joined on the roster.

"Just like Tom, just like Mallett . . . Groppolo as well, they're going in there, they're putting their time in, and they're trying to get better just like the receivers are," Edelman said. "We are all out here going against our defense trying to take everything that we install and just try to get it right the first time and not make the same mistake twice."

But mistakes are going to happen. That's part of the process during OTAs. For rookies, especially.

Garoppolo had a day on Thursday where he made his share of his. But again, it was one day.

At this point, the teammates who see him on a regular basis are likely a much better barometer of Garoppolo's progress than any rainy-day practice in June.