Patriots rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had never attended an NFL game before Thursday night. Not as a player. Not as fan.
But when he entered in the third quarter of New England's preseason game with the Redskins, he looked as though he settled in right away. When his night was finished, in two quarters of play, he was 9-for-13 for 157 yards and a touchdown.
"It's still football," Garoppolo said. "At the end of the day it's 100 [yards] long, 53 wide. You've just got to go out there and play football. You can't think about it, really."
In the pocket, it looked like Garoppolo didn't have to process too much. He made his reads quickly and decisively pulled the trigger time and again. Crossing patterns, outs, fly patterns down the sideline -- Garoppolo appeared to have the ability to make each throw on time and with accuracy.
On a night when Ryan Mallett and the Patriots offense had trouble producing, it was Garoppolo who put the team's only points on the board in their 23-6 loss. He hit 6-foot-3 receiver Brian Tyms down the left sideline with a perfectly-placed ball for a 26-yard score in the fourth quarter.
"The offense, we struggled at times today, but we were clicking at times," Garoppolo said. "Stuff to learn from. It's a process. We're trying to take it in stride and keep getting better, really."
For Garoppolo, who struggled badly in training camp practices leading up to the game, it was a satisfying night. He got to play in front of family members who traveled from Illinois and show them how he's progressing in his first job out of college.
Considering Thursday night's was his first organized contest since being drafted in the second round of out FCS program Eastern Illinois -- and his first time taking in an NFL game in person -- he seems to be adjusting well enough.
"It's definitely fast," Garoppolo said. "Faster than college, that's for sure. It's something that you just have to adapt to though. You have to adapt quickly in this environment and we're doing a good job of that, I think."