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Patriots inside the huddle: Jimmy Garoppolo is ready to be a leader

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New England Patriots second-round draft pick Jimmy Garoppolo already has the feel of a veteran. The rookie quarterback has a lot to learn under starter Tom Brady, but one thing he seems to already have is a commitment to the game. Garoppolo already has a head start on most of the rookies as he has taken the time to learn the Patriots playbook. As NESN reports on Thursday, the product of Eastern Illinois has already carved a leadership role with the team.

This week, as the Patriots separated veteran players from rookies to give the young players a chance to adjust and adapt to the NFL, Garoppolo showed just why the Patriots made him the highest drafted quarterback the team has selected Drew Bledsoe. His hard work and ability to adjust on the fly already wins him points if he is to become the successor of Tom Brady.

The hardest part for any rookie or new player to the system is learning the playbook. Garoppolo told reporters Tuesday at Gillette Stadium that he has been staying up late to learn the offensive playbook and he has been using that knowledge to quiz some of the other rookies.

One of those young players is undrafted tight end Justin Jones who said on Thursday, “he’ll be walking around, and he’ll just walk up to me and shout me out a play and ask me to tell him what is that I’ve got, my responsibilities. And I think that’s one of the key components of being a great quarterback.”

That love for the game and learning is what will eventually make other players around him excel as well. The Patriots as a staff has recognized his ability to be a leader and granted him a leadership role, but he is still a rookie and will still need the time and patience to learn the game as Tom Brady learned the game. Garoppolo understands his role. On Tuesday he talked about eventually replacing a legend.

He told reporters, “My main thing is, I’m a rookie. I haven’t earned any stripes. I haven’t done anything on the field. We had our first practice yesterday just the rookies. I still have a long way to go with that just to begin with.” At least on a mental level, it seems as though the New England Patriots have found the right kind of quarterback to take over the helm when Brady stops walking through that door.