FOXBORO -- They weren't Jacoby Brissett's last practice reps of the spring, but they were his last with reporters in attendance and they illustrated perfectly why Bill Belichick calls OTAs a "teaching camp."
Class was in session.
The final few minutes of Tuesday's practice were all Brissett's because Jimmy Garoppolo was about 100 yards away doing some conditioning with other injured players.
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Until that point, Brissett had put together a nice practice performance. He showed good touch on deep attempts. The ball came out quickly on short-to-intermediate throws.
But things unraveled a little for him at the end during 11-on-11s.
One attempt for Chris Hogan was broken up. Deep passes were overthrown. One screen attempt was fired into the dirt. Another incompletion seemed to be the result of Brissett's leg getting stepped on or brushed out from under him. The last pass of the period was batted at the line of scrimmage and picked by undrafted rookie linebacker Harvey Langi.
One of Brissett's few completions in that portion of practice came when Devin Lucien made a diving grab on a low fastball just before it hit the turf.
As Brissett has often done this spring, he hung back after the team ran The Hills, and he got in some reps with other down-the-depth-chart pass-catchers.
While he threw to some of his younger teammates, veteran receiver Danny Amendola stopped on his way into the locker room and shared some of his thoughts on where the second-year quarterback was in his development.
"I can tell he's getting better," Amendola said. "He's getting stronger. He's learning the verbiage and the play-calls, and he's throwing the ball well. It's a matter of mentally getting it down. He's getting better."
It's been written ad nauseam in this space, but the way in which Brissett grows this season could impact how the Patriots approach the quarterback position down the road. A third-round pick last year, Brissett seems to have the physical skill -- particularly the arm strength -- required to play the position in New England.
The question is how quickly can he pick things up in order to give the Patriots another legitimate option behind center?
Brissett has admitted that there's a gap between what he can do and what the two veterans ahead of him are capable of, but he's working to close the gap.
"I can tell he's working hard," Amendola said, "and he's getting better every day. He's so young, and he has a long way to go. But we're all really happy to have him, and he does a good job, especially for a young guy."
Amendola noted that seeing Brissett work after practice to get a few more reps -- even on a day where he was the No. 2 quarterback -- was a good sign that Brissett understands the importance of "getting your stuff done" and being a professional.
"He's learning man. He's learning," Amendola said. "I think once he feels and learns the groove of year-in-year-out professionalism, that's where you see guys grow the most. He's learning, man. He just needs time. He's doing well."
One of the players most accustomed to catching passes from Brissett is fellow second-year player Devin Lucien. Drafted in the seventh round last year out of Arizona State, the wideout said that there is no doubt in his mind Brissett is far more comfortable running things at the line of scrimmage this year as compared to last year.
There was one moment that stood out in that regard at Tuesday's workout. In an 11-on-11 period, Brissett scoped out the defensive alignment and made a signal in the direction of undrafted rookie wideout Cody Hollister. Brissett looked Hollister's way after the snap and hit Hollister in stride for a long over-the-shoulder completion with undrafted rookie corner Kenny Moore in tight coverage.
If Brissett indeed changed Hollister's route at the line, it was the right call.
"I'm sure," Lucien said, "as a rookie you come in with a whole bunch of bearded guys that are huge, some receivers that are older than you, you might be kind of shy to be that controlling dude. I know I would be, honestly. I think the biggest thing for Jacoby is just that he's more comfortable. I think that's just starting to show for you guys. He feels more comfortable making signals, the checks at the line, all that. I think it just comes with time."
Brissett got plenty of time on Tuesday with Garoppolo down, and there were teaching moments aplenty. Call it another small step for a young quarterback who teammates think is moving in the right direction.