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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Quick-hit thoughts and notes around the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. Stidham enjoying QB education behind the scenes: While some rookie quarterbacks get thrust into action right away — such as the Cleveland Browns’ Baker Mayfield, who faces the Patriots on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) — Jarrett Stidham falls on the opposite side of the spectrum. Stidham has transitioned from Auburn starter to Patriots backup, a position he has come to appreciate as he works to show he can be the team’s quarterback of the future.
Sharing a meeting room with Tom Brady, 42, has been an education in and of itself.
“I’ve just tried to sit back and watch what he does. You can learn a lot from just watching,” Stidham said last week. “He’s very open to conversation with me, too, which is great. If I have a question about anything, he’s always willing to help me out. He’s been great.”
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Brady’s contract expires after the season, and while he has said he hopes to play until he’s 45, the Patriots have been eyeing his eventual successor since selecting Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round of the 2014 draft. Their recent history sparks confidence Stidham could be it. Consider that among Brady, Garoppolo (49ers) and 2016 third-round choice Jacoby Brissett (Colts), quarterbacks with Patriots ties are 17-2 as starters this season.
Coach Bill Belichick was complimentary of Stidham last week, saying: “He’s handled everything we’ve thrown at him. In practice, he does a good job. He gets a lot of passes on our defense.” But Belichick also noted that it’s always different in a game, which will be the ultimate barometer for Stidham, who was selected in the fourth round (No. 133 overall).
Last week in practice, Stidham played the scout-team role of Mayfield, which meant showing his athleticism and a willingness and ability to throw the football anywhere on the field. The 23-year-old, who is married and sometimes gets ribbed by his rookie teammates for his maturity, has embraced the opportunity to grow without a bright spotlight shining on him.
Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham on learning from Tom Brady: “If I have a question about anything, he’s always willing to help me out.” Kathryn Riley/Getty Images
“The position I’m in now, I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he said at his corner locker, which was previously occupied by Rob Gronkowski. “I’m getting to learn from Tom and Josh [McDaniels] and Mick [Lombardi] and Coach Belichick — so many great coaches and players around me. It’s just good to get a taste of that side of it,” he said.
“After this week, it will be halfway through, Week 8 now. I’m still learning a lot, which is awesome. That’s what I come into work every day and I’m really excited about, because there’s a ton I’m still learning about the offense — plays and defenses. That’s the most fun part, and I’m around great teachers.”
Off the field, the native of Stephenville, Texas, has learned something else about autumn in New England.
“The trees are a different color. It is beautiful,” Stidham said with a smile. “That’s something I don’t think I’ve ever got to experience.”