Rookie QB Garoppolo denies rift with Brady: ‘Tom’s like an older brother’

New England Patriots quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo (left) and Tom Brady. 

David Butler II/David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was largely ignored on the New England Patriots sideline after throwing his first NFL touchdown pass, but there are no hard feelings toward his teammates.

Much was made of starting quarterback Tom Brady snubbing Garoppolo on Monday night after the TD, but the rookie backup ran past Bill Belichick without so much as a head nod from his head coach. Garoppolo said he wasn’t surprised by the lack of recognition for his accomplishment.

"No. It was a tough situation," Garoppolo said Thursday in an exclusive interview with NESN.com. "No one’s real excited by a touchdown like that. It was a little bit of a different scenario. It is what it is."

Garoppolo and Brady aren’t seen fraternizing on the sideline or at practice like the Patriots’ starting signal-caller used to do with former backup Ryan Mallett. Brady has even slid down the Patriots’ workout line at practice, moving away from Garoppolo and his wide receivers, and toward Julian Edelman and the offensive line.

Garoppolo denied there’s any rift between he and Brady and said their relationship is strong.

"Tom’s like an older brother to me," Garoppolo said. "Throughout OTAs, training camp, all that stuff, he’s helped me so much. It’s great.

"We’re very similar. He’s just helped me so much. He’s been doing this for a while. His experience has helped me a bunch, and I really thank him a lot."

Garoppolo shone in the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, completing 6 of 7 passes for 70 yards with a touchdown. He was sacked once, and his only incompletion came on a drop by wideout Brandon LaFell.

It appears the Patriots found a winner in Garoppolo. An AFC scout, who ranked the Eastern Illinois product No. 2 among 2014 draft eligible quarterback, agrees.

"Garoppolo is going to be good," the scout offered, unsolicited. "Genius-level intellect."

The No. 62 overall pick has shown his elite smarts so far with the Patriots by picking up their complex, option-route heavy defense exceptionally quickly, beating out Mallett for the backup job. Garoppolo didn’t even have a playbook in college, instead using a concept-based system.

"It’s a tough system, but you gotta do what you gotta do, right?" Garoppolo said. "You learn it eventually."

It certainly looked like Garoppolo had picked up the Patriots’ offense when he was firing passes in garbage time against a Chiefs defense that gave Brady fits.

"There’s not much simplifying," Garoppolo said. "You gotta know what you gotta know. That’s how the quarterback position is, and I wouldn’t have it any other way."

Garoppolo won’t be starting anytime soon — despite Brady’s struggles — but when he does, he’s proven that he’ll be ready.

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