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Brandon LaFell lauds Jimmy Garoppolo's growth

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If a silver lining exists in the ongoing suspension saga of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, it's that second-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is operating under the pressure of a full-time starter.

For as many as four games next year, after all, he will be.

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After a slew of voluntary workouts and a minicamp this offseason, early returns have been positive. Garoppolo flashed during some spot duty a year ago and rolled that into a nice spring and summer.

Wide receiver Brandon LaFell summed it up nicely on Sirius XM this week, via ESPN.com.

"Jimmy has grown a lot since he first stepped foot up there in Foxborough last year," LaFell 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."

He added: "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."

LaFell is right. Behind Philadelphia, New England has to be the best system for a backup quarterback to walk into and thrive. Garoppolo, too, may even be a better quarterback than the above-average NFL backup.

If nothing else, it will be fascinating to put the 2008 season under the microscope again. Josh McDaniels will be running some version of the same system he was running back then and will still be on hand to tutor the quarterback. It will be a smaller sample size, but it will provide a window into just how friendly their system is.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast discusses Jason Pierre-Paul's firework incident, and reviews recent 'Making the Leap' candidates.

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