Jimmy Garoppolo on taking QB reins: ‘You have to make it your own’

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Five things we learned from New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s interview on sports radio WEEI’s “Dennis and Callahan Show with Minihane” on Monday morning:

Why he likes throwing to Malcolm Mitchell. The rookie receiver has made a quick first impression (four catches, 55 yards in the preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints). “He’s progressing really well,” Garoppolo said. “He has big, strong hands and catches everything you throw at the guy. As a quarterback, you love that. You don’t like a guy who bobbles it. He’s going to catch it clean for you every time, and that’s a comforting feeling.”

It means Corey Linsley lost the job in the same way he got it.

Linsley, who stepped in as a rookie after Tretter went down in an Aug. 22, 2014, preseason game, remains on the physically unable to perform list because of a hamstring injury that kept him out the entire offseason as well.

“JC Tretter has had an excellent camp,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. “I think I’ve answered that question repeatedly and JC, in my view, has earned the starting position at center. Availability is a big part of what you look for in your players.

“It’s unfortunate what Corey is going through and continuing to battle to get back out there. But there’s been a lot of time that’s gone by since he’s been out there. I think JC has done an excellent job.”

Clearly, McCarthy has placed value not only on Tretter’s performance but also in the reps he’s taken all offseason with the other offensive line starters. Continuity has long been one of McCarthy’s goals for his offensive line. In 2014, when Linsley took over, the same five linemen started 17 of the 18 games (including playoffs).

Last year, only left guard Josh Sitton started every game, and he made one of those starts out of position, at left tackle.

Tretter has made four career starts — all last season. Three of those came at center when Linsley had a late-season ankle injury. The other was at left tackle in the wild-card playoff game at Washington.

But in the 2014 preseason — the last season when Griffin saw the field — he ran three times against the Browns, and twice took hits. On one, he was hit by three Browns defenders when he could have run out of bounds.

After the game, Gruden said simply: “When he gets out of the pocket, he needs to protect himself.”

When Griffin got to Cleveland, Jackson had a more direct approach about sliding.

“Demand it,” he said.

There was no wiggle room.

“You want to play quarterback in our system for us, there are certain things we ask the quarterback to do,” Jackson said. “You have to protect the ball; you have to take care of yourself. Because you have to be out there with your teammates.”

In practice, Griffin throws the ball away in an exaggerated manner — flinging it over a 15-foot fence that circles the practice field. In the offseason, Griffin proudly talked about how he had executed a perfect slide with nobody watching, and then celebrated another slide on the field.

In the game against Atlanta, Griffin slid twice and also covered up a bad snap — and drew a face mask penalty — as opposed to picking up the ball and trying to run.

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