<
>

Things have changed quickly for Patriots rookie QB Jacoby Brissett

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When NFL rosters were still at 90 players and space in the New England Patriots' locker room was tight, quarterback Jacoby Brissett set up residence in one of the far corners with a large group of other rookies.

Visitors couldn't help but notice the camaraderie among the newcomers to the professional ranks. They laughed a lot during breaks in the day. Sometimes they'd talk about video games, other times it was sports or pop culture.

Brissett was often right in the middle of it.

On Tuesday, one of the rookies who was a big part of those chats, wide receiver Devin Lucien, was noting how things have changed.

Brissett's locker was moved to the other side of the room in early September when rosters were trimmed to 53 players and there was more real estate to spare. Instead of being surrounded by rookies, Brissett now had running back LeGarrette Blount to one side and quarterback Tom Brady to the other.

That's the high-rent district, so while the rookies still spend plenty of time together, the days of the impromptu locker room chats are pretty much over.

"We were all in it together, kind of getting used to everything with the transition [to the NFL], and I think it kind of made it easier because of that. I know, for me personally, it was a lot of fun," Lucien said. "I kind of miss him."

Lucien smiled and laughed as he delivered that line, because he was mostly kidding. He also probably noticed what had unfolded on the other side of the locker room moments earlier: a swarm of reporters circling around Brissett and firing away with questions on what he thought about potentially starting Thursday night's home game against the Houston Texans.

Brissett, who was recently given the nickname "One Snap" by his mentor Bill Parcells, might be thrust into the starting role if Jimmy Garoppolo's sprained AC joint in his right throwing shoulder limits him so that he is only available in an emergency role or inactive altogether.

"It's the same preparation every week," Brissett told reporters. "It's been a learning process since I got here and it's going to continue to be. I'm just worried about Thursday."

The Patriots worked hard to try to keep Brissett from becoming a primary storyline, cutting off his Tuesday Q&A session with reporters after barely two minutes. Many players also deflected questions on their experience with the third-round pick (91st overall) out of NC State.

But plenty has been said about Brissett over the last five months, and if there has been one word that has seemed to be most attached to him, it is "poise."

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels relayed Monday on sports radio WEEI how the team tried to rattle him in his pre-draft visit to Gillette Stadium, to no avail.

"Jacoby is really a calm individual," he said. "He's a guy that is very difficult to fluster."

At the same time, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Brissett is an easy guy to rally around. That's what Lucien, a seventh-round pick now on the practice squad, remembers as early as their first day on the job.

"As a class in general, we all did our best to work as hard as we could to get each other better, and I think one thing that's important to say about Jacoby is that he was kind of the ringleader, especially of the offense, in doing that stuff," he said.

"He was always asking to do extra. He's just very poised, cool, calm and collected on everything. He seems that way on the field and it's been that way since I played with him in the preseason."

About a month ago, Brissett was a ringleader of the offensive rookie class.

On Thursday, in a reminder of how quickly things have changed, he might be called upon to lead the entire team.