|Jimmy Garoppolo on stepping in for Tom Brady: Just worried ‘about the things you can control’||05.29.15 at 10:00 pm ET|
FOXBORO — If Jimmy Garoppolo indeed starts the season as the Patriots quarterback, he plans to do so with a smile on his face.
Entering his second season out of Eastern Illinois, Garoppolo is in line to start against the Steelers on Sept. 10 if Tom Brady doesn’t have his four-game suspension entirely revoked.
In his first season, Garoppolo appeared in six games, completing 19-of-27 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski in the 41-14 blowout loss at Kansas City last Sept. 29. But beyond the game experience, Garoppolo and head coach Bill Belichick both agreed Friday, after the second OTA session of the spring, that the biggest impact comes with having a full year in the Patriots’ offensive system.
“It helps all rookies to get that first year under their belt and come out in the second year,” Belichick said. “That’s usually where you see the biggest jump generally in most players, from year one to year two. They understand the system, they’ve been through it, they’ve been through the league for a year. Hopefully, we’ll see that from our group.”
“There’s a long way to go,” Garoppolo added. “We just got into OTAs, just a couple of practices under our belts. I’ll probably have a better answer in a couple of weeks or so. Obviously, a year will do that to anyone. Being with the same people, same atmosphere, all that. You get more used to it.
“Little improvements here and there that you have to pick up. Obviously, getting into the playbook, it’s a lot different. You’ve just got to adjust to it. There’s a ton to improve on. We’ve got a long way to go.”
Garoppolo should have a better idea after Brady has his appeal heard on June 23 whether he indeed will be starting against the Steelers in the opener. Garoppolo is in a strange position of feeling for his teammate whose misfortune could open a door of opportunity for him.
“He’s accomplished a ton,” Garoppolo said. “Four Super Bowl rings. That’s as impressive as it gets. You’ve got to worry about the things that you can control and coming out here every day and try to improve every day. That’s all I can worry about right now.
“I’m just going out to practice every day, trying to improve, try to get my teammates better, me better and go from there. I just have the mindset that I’m trying to get better. That’s all you can control at the end of the day.”
One area Garoppolo has learned a lot from Brady is in his diet.
“Being in the league for a year, obviously that experience, you see guys ahead of you, what they do and how they take care of their bodies. It’s a long season so you’ve got to be in tip-top shape. That’s what the offseason is for. You’ve got to eat right. That’s makes all the different. I know I’m pretty young still but as you get older, it makes a difference. Ice cream. That’s my weakness.”
|Bill Belichick on a Super Bowl offseason and Deflategate: ‘We’re onto next year’||05.29.15 at 2:05 pm ET|
Asked if the joy from February’s Super Bowl win was diminished at all by the news from Deflategate, Belichick looked toward the future.
“That’s a long time ago. We’re onto next year,” Belichick said. “It’s 2015. You forget about last year. That was last year.”
With Tom Brady facing a four-game suspension to start the season, Belichick was naturally asked if he’s preparing to start the season with second-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
“We’re just going day-by-day right now,” Belichick said. “Everybody is working hard, trying to get better. That’s what we’re all doing.”
Garoppolo, Brady and Garrett Gilbert all took snaps and turns in running the Patriots’ offense Friday during a practice that lasted nearly two hours.
“Trying to get everybody an opportunity to learn our system and get ready to compete and play and that competition will really come in training camp,” Belichick said. “This is a more a teaching camp than a competitive camp. We want to try to get everybody an opportunity to learn and understand the plays and know what to do and then we’ll let them compete in training camp and preseason games and see how it goes. It’s up to them.
“Right now, we’re in 2015. Nobody is looking back. Nobody is looking ahead. We’re just trying to come out here and get better day by day.”
Belichick would not offer any comment on what he felt about owner Robert Kraft’s decision to accept a $1 million fine and the loss of two draft picks as punishment for the organization’s role in Deflategate.
“He made a statement on it last week,” said Belichick, who was actually asked if he had any opinion on the fan movement to delay the Super Bowl banner raising until Brady returns. “Right now, we’re just concentrating on our practices out here.”
|With help from Tre’ Jackson, Shaq Mason learning Patriots’ playbook with an eye on ‘great opportunity’||05.28.15 at 5:38 pm ET|
FOXBORO — One of the first lessons Patriots rookies learn when they enter Gillette Stadium for the first time is that you’re not competing with each other for a roster spot. You’re helping each other get better.
There’s no better example of that than the two rookie offensive linemen who come into camp as fourth rounders with different styles but the same goal of making the roster of the defending Super Bowl champs.
Tre’ Jackson revealed Thursday at Gillette that he and Shaq Mason are helping each other study the Patriots’ playbook. Jackson came from a pro style offense with Florida State while Mason came from a power running style at Georgia Tech. But both share the desire to learn the one system that they hope will be with them a long time in the NFL.
“I’m just trying to get prepared for this opportunity,” Mason said. “It’s a great opportunity. I knew I was going to have to work coming in and just try to get better.”
Mason stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 310 pounds. That’s two inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than Jackson.
Mason and Jackson have already leaned on some of the veterans around Foxboro to help them get acclimated as soon as possible.
“All of them. There’s not one in particular. It’s a great, great atmosphere here,” Mason said. “All of the guys are giving me great advice. We’re all just working together trying to reach a common goal.”
But the one message Mason has received loud and clear is that nothing in Foxboro is a given, certainly not a roster spot for a highly-valued draft pick if they don’t put the work in.
“Coming in, the guys told me nothing is given here, so I’m going to have to work every day,” Mason said. “And that was the plan ‘ to work every day, study as much as possible and get to know as much as I can.”
Mason also hasn’t heard any veterans bringing up what was accomplished in February back in Glendale.
“Well, really, I wasn’t a part of that team. You never hear Super Bowl talk around here,” Mason said. “We’re just focusing on this season. I’m focused on being here. I’m here as much as I can be and just trying to get better.”
|Tre’ Jackson not taking anything for granted despite working with Bryan Stork in past||05.28.15 at 4:27 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The past is the past.
No one needs to remind Patriots rookie offensive lineman Tre’ Jackson of that old adage.
When the Patriots drafted Bryan Stork’s old Florida State teammate in the fourth round (111th pick overall) on the third day of this spring’s draft, many assumed that meant he had a place secured on the Patriots’ roster for the 2015 season. There are some who even suggested that Jackson may have the best chance of this year’s rookie class to step in and start on the offensive line if Dan Connolly doesn’t return.
After all, these were two of the five space-eaters that protected Jameis Winston on Florida State’s run to a BCS national title in January 2014. Stork was the center and Jackson, who weighs in at around 330 pounds and stands 6-foot-4, was the right guard.
But now in Foxboro, with the defending Super Bowl champs, all that means is some familiarity. Beyond that, there’s a lot of work to be done.
“Being able to play with him is a great thing, but all my teammates that are out here now have been a great help,” Jackson told reporters on the steamy Gillette Stadium turf Thursday. “I can go to anybody and get advice. All the guys on the offensive line, I can go to them and they’re there to help.”
Jackson said the championship experiences over the last two seasons at Florida State provided great experience but that’s all in the past now.
“I had great experiences at Florida State,” he said. “Now I’m just trying to transfer it and do the things that my coaches need me to do as far as getting better on the field, off the field [and] things like that.”
While Jackson figures to be competing for playing time with fellow rookie offensive lineman Shaq Mason, drafted 20 picks after Jackson in the fourth round, Jackson said there’s no pure competition at this point.
“Of course not. He’s a teammate right now. He’s just going to make me better,” Jackson said. “I’m going to make him better. Competition makes everyone better.
“It’s great to have someone who is in the same boat as you; just trying to get better with him. You’re making him better, he’s making me better. Just to be there and be a resource to him; he’s been a big resource to me ‘ helping each other study the playbook at night and things like that.”
If Jackson impresses the coaches enough, he might find himself protecting the back and backside of one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.
“It’s great to be with a guy like that,” Jackson said. “But it’s not just Tom Brady. Being with all the Patriots, just walking through the locker room, being able to go to all those Patriots and get advice from them, guys that you looked up to for the longest time, being able to go get advice from them.”
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price talk Malcom Brown, Jordan Richards and Tom Brady||05.28.15 at 1:46 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price talk about Patriots rookies, including first rounder Malcom Brown and the latest on the Tom Brady controversy over Deflategate.
|Malcom Brown embracing ‘tough love’ from Bill Belichick||05.27.15 at 12:41 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Malcom Brown, like the rest of the 2015 Patriots rookie class, is learning fast.
He’s learning a new system. He’s learning a new way of life. And he’s learning about what Bill Belichick expects on a daily basis from his players.
Brown, the first-round (No. 32 overall) pick of the Patriots, was asked about his first impressions of Belichick Wednesday during his introductory press conference on the Gillette Stadium field.
“Great guy. He’s my new coach now and he shows everybody a lot of love ‘ tough love ‘ and sometimes you need that,” Brown said.
Something else that will come in handy – that Belichick will no doubt emphasize – is the value of wearing ear muffs and blinders whenever the news comes on. Blocking out distractions like Deflategate has always been a trademark of a Belichick-coached team. Brown has had the advantage of not being in tune with controversy as he is focused on doing what it takes to impress as a rookie.
“I haven’t really been focusing towards that,” Brown said. “I’m just here to work. That’s all I’ve been focusing on is getting better every day and learning the material and getting better and working hard.”
As for his boss’s boss, Brown was asked what was it like to walk through the offices with Robert Kraft and Jonathan Kraft on Wednesday for his press conference.
“It was great,” Brown beamed. “Those guys are at the top of the food chain. It’s great being around those guys. They sign my paycheck. It’s fun when you have somebody that’s like that, not just stuck up in an office and won’t to talk to you. They’re guys that will just sit there and talk to you.”
Despite coming in as a first round pick, Brown also made a point Wednesday that his mind isn’t on replacing Vince Wilfork but rather just working to earn his way onto the roster.
“I haven’t really thought about replacing anyone,” Brown said. “I’m just here to work. I can’t stress that enough, just compete every day and work because nothing is given to you.
|Malcom Brown learns an early lesson on humility as vets take him ‘under their wing’||05.27.15 at 12:02 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Humility is one of the first traits any Patriots rookie learns. Even first round picks.
That was evident Wednesday as defensive lineman Malcom Brown was finally introduced to the media in a press conference at midfield at Gillette Stadium.
It was Brown who declared in a conference call hours after being chosen by the Patriots that he would show that he would be the best draft pick New England ever made.
On Wednesday, the man who will help replace Vince Wilfork admitted getting some unwanted attention over that bold proclamation.
“There’s a lot that’s been going on with all that but I just can’t focus on it,” Brown said. “I’m not really trying to. I’m just trying to work hard, contribute to the team and do whatever I’m asked to do.”
But Brown said he hasn’t been getting too much grief from his new Patriots teammates since everyone is too busy working and trying to get ready for OTAs.
“Everybody is just really focused,” he said. “There’s a lot to learn. There’s a lot going on right now, with OTAs. Everybody is just trying to learn, get better and work hard.”
“Everything is just on the fly here. Everything is on the go. You’ve got to learn, but you’ve got to take time out of your day to learn the stuff, too. You can’t expect to get it all in during meetings. You’ve got to be able to manage your time and learn everything.
Brown said not even Tom Brady gave him any serious grief about it.
“Nah. Actually, I just walked up to Tom, shook his hand and went to work. Everybody is trying to work right now,” Brown said. “It’s easy to learn right now because we’re doing everything stage by stage. Everybody is just trying to really focus and work towards being better [this] year.
“Obviously, there’s not one perfect player in the NFL but you can also work and get better at many things. After practice, whatever my coaches think I need work on that’s what I will take it to [heart] and will spend my own time working on that, after weights or after practice, get my own time in.”
If there’s one theme Brown kept repeating over and over it was the “hard work” needed to acclimate to the Patriots system in Foxboro.
“This is a great honor to be here and just to contribute to a team that’s hard-working and get in the program and work with them,” he said. “You get in here and I got in here two weeks ago and right from the get-go you see the hard work and you see everything that’s thrown at you. You have to grasp it and go.