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Laps and lessons for Jimmy Garoppolo in first NFL training camp

07.26.14 at 1:34 pm ET
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FOXBORO –€” Jimmy Garoppolo can either be frustrated or determined, and he’€™s choosing the latter with a smile.

In his first few days of training camp, the second-round pick has looked like exactly what he is: a rookie quarterback who has a lot to learn.

Garoppolo was intercepted three times during Saturday’€™s practice and a mistake during goal-line work caused him to a run a lap for a second straight day. Yet speaking after Saturday’€™s practice, he spoke of the “next play mentality” that he’€™s learned from Tom Brady. Think less of an I’€™m-struggling mindset and more I’€™ve-got-this.

“€œJust picking up the offense one day at a time, really,”€ he said of the early going of camp. “€œLittle bits and pieces here and there. It’€™s a process. There’€™s going to be bumps along the way, but you’€™ve just got to learn and improve on that.”

Those bumps are common for any young quarterback, but there’€™s a difference between getting to know a new league and system (which would describe Garoppolo’€™s situation) and appearing physically incapable, which also happens (2010 seventh-rounder Zac Robinson come to mind).

It’€™s clear that, despite the misplaced passes and laps run, Garoppolo doesn’€™t feel incapable. It’€™s hard now, but with improvement it will be easier.

“It’€™s difficult at times, but it’€™s part of being a rookie, really,”€ he said. “You don’€™t want to make a mental error twice, you don’€™t want to make a physical error twice. It’€™s just part of the NFL, really.”€

When Garoppolo ran his lap Saturday, he went past packed stands on the practice fields of Gillette Stadium that grew louder with cheers as he ran by. That’€™s another difference for Garoppolo, who played his college football at Eastern Illinois.

“€œComing from Eastern, we didn’€™t have the biggest crowd by any means and at practice we didn’€™t have a crowd,”€ he said with a laugh. “It’€™s awesome to come out here, and the fans, they’€™re unbelievable.”

A benefit for Garoppolo, whose selection this spring turned heads, is that’€™s he’€™s got one of the best quarterbacks of all time in Brady, as well as someone who has gone through adjustment to NFL life recently in 2011 third-round pick Ryan Mallett.

When the Pats chose Mallett, there was similar intrigue and a similar support system. There isn’€™t any pressure on Garoppolo to be the backup this season, just like there wasn’€™t pressure on Mallett to be the backup as a rookie given the status of then-second-stringer Brian Hoyer.

So throughout all of the little learning experiences that will hopefully contribute to an understanding of the highest competition, Garoppolo has good resources should he have any questions.

“œRyan and Tom both,”€ Garoppolo said. “€œTom may have been a little while ago, but they both went through it. They’€™ve been helping me along the way, just giving me little bits of advice here and there, and I really thank them for that.”

For now, Garoppolo will remain all smiles and all effort as he tries to get caught up to speed. That, he hopes, will mean fewer showings like Saturday’s, and fewer laps.

Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Mallett, Tom Brady,
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