FOXBOROUGH — Jimmy Garoppolo may someday be the successor to Tom Brady as the Patriots’ top quarterback, but right now, the second-round pick is just trying to learn as much as he can, as quickly as possible.
“I can’t even describe it to you,” Garoppolo said Tuesday when asked how much time he’s spent with his nose in the playbook since arriving at Gillette Stadium Sunday with the rest of the Patriots’ draft picks. “An unbelievable amount. Getting a little sleep-deprived, but that’s a good thing in this business.”
New England made Garoppolo and several other rookies available to reporters on the field at Gillette, but the former Eastern Illinois quarterback drew the biggest crowd.
In other cities, drafted quarterbacks likely have a pretty good shot of challenging for the starting job. But in New England, Brady is still the starter.
Though Bill Belichick acknowledged Friday night that Brady is getting up there in age from a football standpoint — he’ll be 37 Aug. 3 — and though Belichick, during his tenure in New England, has never drafted a quarterback so high before, the expectation is that Garoppolo will be sitting and learning for a couple of years.
“I haven’t thought about it too much,” he said when asked about his job status. “My main thing is I’m a rookie — I haven’t earned any stripes yet, I haven’t done anything on the field. We had our first practice yesterday, just the rookies, and I still have a long way to go with all of that just to begin with.”
Thus far, his only interaction with Brady has been a brief introduction; veteran players and rookies are on separate schedules.
It’s probably for the best. Garoppolo is focused on the playbook.
“It’s a completely different offense [from Eastern Illinois], to be honest,” he said. “It’s like learning Spanish compared to English; it’s just a different language.
But he believes he’ll be able to pick it up “very quickly, I think. It’s a process and I know there’s going to be a huge learning curve, but I’m excited for it.
“It’s a unique experience, and it’s a tremendous offense and a great organization to play for.”
In addition to the sheer volume of the playbook, Garoppolo said another change will be working from under center.
But whatever it takes — playbook study, film study, learning from Brady and Ryan Mallett — Garoppolo is ready. He called himself a blue-collar guy who likes to go to work every day.
He has been assigned No. 10, which is a new number for him, but Garoppolo isn’t complaining.
The last few days have been a whirlwind, but he calmly explained that he won’t stress over everything suddenly thrust upon him.
“You just can’t,” he said. “It sounds very simple, but you can’t overwhelm yourself. You can’t overthink things. At the end of the day, it’s football. You’ve got to go out there and perform on the field.”
If anything has bothered him since getting the call that he was becoming a Patriot, it was having to leave his mother, Denise, on Mother’s Day to head to Massachusetts. His is a tight-knit “big Italian family,” he said, and Denise was a bit bothered to see her third of four boys head out.