Garoppolo impresses as Brady's substitute

Garoppolo impresses as Brady's substitute
August 16, 2014, 12:15 am
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FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo said the decision to play him in the first quarter against the Eagles was a "last-minute" decision, but it seemed as though he was more than ready.

Entering into the game for Tom Brady with five minutes remaining in the quarter, Garoppolo ran four plays (penalties negated two others) and completed two passes to fullback James Develin, including a short completion that turned into a 15-yard touchdown. The score gave New England a 14-7 lead in a game that the hosts eventually won, 42-35.

"Kind of just threw me in there. It was kind of a last-minute thing," said Garoppolo, who went 6-for-12 for 72 yards and two touchdowns. "You know you always have to be ready. Whenever an opportunity comes, you have to take advantage of it."

The rookie second-round selection has now seized his opportunity in two consecutive preseason games -- the first two NFL games he's ever attended. Against the Redskins last week, he went 9-for-13 for 157 yards and a touchdown after two weeks of less-than-stellar training camp practices.

Since that performance at FedEx Field, Garoppolo has looked like a different quarterback. He had a good week of practice -- first in normal Patriots workouts, then in joint practices with the Eagles -- and carried that into Friday's game.

"Felt good going into this game," he said. "Had a good week of practice. Going against another team always brings out the competitive spirit in everyone. I thought our whole team had a good week this week."

Garoppolo was accurate on short passes, like his two completions to Develin, but he also continued to show good touch on longer throws to the sideline. He hit Brandon LaFell early in the second quarter for a 25-yard pass on an out route that had plenty of air under it and was timed perfectly for LaFell to reel it in without breaking stride.

Seven plays later, Garoppolo found LaFell again. This time LaFell was in the back of the end zone from four yards away.

Garoppolo played the remainder of the second quarter and then gave way to Ryan Mallett in the second half.

That Garoppolo played before Mallett may serve as an indication as to where the team sees the two in their competition for the job of backup quarterback, but it also may have been a simple case of the Patriots wanting to see their rookie signal-caller against competition that was better than the borderline pros he saw last week.

Regardless of the reasoning for the timing of his insertion, he proved he was prepared.