Brandon LaFell sees growth from Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo

One of the lingering questions surrounding the New England Patriots is how backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will perform if Tom Brady’s suspension keeps him off the field. In a Wednesday interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio, receiver Brandon LaFell shared his viewpoint on the topic.

“Jimmy has grown a lot since he first stepped foot up there in Foxborough last year,” he said. “He got a little experience during the later part of the season against Buffalo; he showed a little glimpse of what he can do. He’s been having a nice OTAs, a nice offseason with us.

“I feel like studying behind Tom has been great for him. If we have to be without Tom for the first couple games, I’m pretty sure Tom will be in Jimmy’s ear helping him prepare each and every way he can to go out here and lead this team. I think we have a great group of guys around him that will kind of take the pressure off Jimmy so he won’t have to feel like he has to go out there and win the game himself with me, Gronk, Edelman, Scott Chandler, we have all great guys around here – LeGarrette Blount, Aaron Dobson -- a few guys who can go out and make a lot of plays for him so he doesn’t feel like he has to go out there and win the game himself. Everybody just has to up their level of play to help out.”

Two other sound bites from LaFell’s interview with host Bruce Murray:

How much he learned about himself as a receiver joining the Patriots in 2014. “I learned a lot. Last year, they put me in situations where I can get the ball and get it in my hands quick and have a lot of run-after-catch. They saw me as a bigger guy and a harder guy to tackle, so it was like, ‘Why keep running him down the field all day when I can get the ball in your hands quick and make guys tackle you because you break a lot of tackles.’ I felt like they put me in a lot of great situations to get the ball in my hands and use the best of my abilities to break tackles and run after catch. In other games, they put me outside and let me work one-on-one. I learned a lot about myself and I have to give a lot of credit to the guys I played with – Brady, Gronk, Edelman, Amendola, Shane Vereen … a lot of those guys helped me grow as a player also.”

When chemistry and trust developed with Tom Brady. “It didn’t come right away. I would say it probably came about the game in Kansas City [in Week 4]. The first couple games I wasn’t getting a lot of targets. I think I had one or two catches the first two or three games. It took a little while. I thought I had won it over in camp when we went down to Washington and I had a good week of practice against those guys. Then the next week we came back and we had a practice against Philly and we were doing a two-minute drive and I was catching balls out there in practice. But then we needed seven and we had to go score, and he threw the ball to Gronk and Edelman every time and I was like ‘Oh man, it just went out the window.’ It took a little while but as we got going through the season, we got on the same page and we haven’t looked back yet.”,