Jimmy Garoppolo wasn't the only one in the middle of a crucial learning experience during last night's game with the Giants. Newly-acquired tight end Tim Wright was thrown into the mix just two days after being traded so that he could get a jump-start on his Patriots education.
"I think the big thing for Tim last night was just his opportunity to be in our system and play in our system," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in a conference call Friday. "There were some things that happened during the game on the field, on the sideline with substitution, on the bench in between series, the communication all those things. He heard the snap count, he heard the quarterback audible, he heard adjustments being made on the sideline -- all those things, which are part of the game.
"He only knew a handful of plays but overall I thought he handled the situation pretty well. I think the big thing for him and the rest of the team for us is just that the chance we had to get him to play actually in our system, even though it was an abbreviated way of doing it, it was a lot better than next week being the first time all those things happened. That was good."
For the Patriots, last night's game was a chance to perform what amounted to some serious self-scouting on Wright. They want to be able to do all they can to get him up to speed as quickly as possible, and they used their last preseason game to find out the areas in which he'd need the most help.
"We saw some things for him," Belichick said. "In other words, what are going to be the biggest differences, what are going to be things that are pretty similar, pretty familiar with, what are going to be some things that are a little bit more of a learning curve. A lot of that really crystallized last night that he can feed back for us or what we can see in working with him. [We can say] that 'He's pretty far along in these things, but not this far along in maybe something else.' I think that was the benefit last night for that particular player."
Wright played 43 offensive snaps and made four catches for 43 yards on the night. He was praised as a "very intelligent player" by rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo -- an assessment Belichick didn't refute.
"I think probably what Jimmy was referring to, and I think we saw it as a coaching staff, [Wright] was able to absorb a lot of information in a short amount of time and then go out there and function in the game," Belichick said. "I mean, it certainly wasn’t perfect. But the formations and the routes and so forth, there’s certainly a lot of fine-tuning that needs to be done, but he picked all that up pretty quickly and when he got into the game [he] didn’t forget it. Sometimes it’s one thing to sit in the meeting and go over it and feel like yeah, you’ve got it, and OK, you hear this you’re going to do that. It’s another thing to actually go out there and do it at full speed in a game situation.
"He handled quite a bit of information in a short amount of time pretty well, so that was good. Now this week, obviously, he’ll be starting at the beginning like everybody else will in terms of our game plan and preparations for Miami, so we’ll just take it day by day and see how it goes. But I thought he handled a lot of information pretty well."
The Patriots will take a wait-and-see approach with how Wright will factor into Week 1's game in Miami, but it appears as though he didn't hurt his chances of getting some playing time with the way he performed Thursday.