FOXBORO, Mass. — It might be too early to declare that the New England Patriots have a backup quarterback controversy, but rookie Jimmy Garoppolo is making the most of his reps with Ryan Mallett absent at practice.
Garoppolo completed 9-of-14 passes in 7-on-7s drills, and he went 16-of-24 in 11-on-11s. Garoppolo threw an interception in 7-on-7s, but his pass clanged off the hands of wide receiver Josh Boyce and into the waiting arms of safety Nate Ebner.
Mallett missed his second straight practice with what appears to be an undisclosed injury. The second-string quarterback slid awkwardly on his left knee in Thursday’s preseason loss to the Washington Redskins, but he stayed in the contest.
Garoppolo would have to keep improving in practice and string together four consistent preseason games to pass Mallett on the depth chart. Mallett has to get back on the practice field, however.
Garoppolo is taking less time to get rid of the ball, and his throws behind receivers are happening with less frequency. He seems to have eased into the Patriots’ offensive system well.
Starting quarterback Tom Brady completed 13-of-16 passes in 7-on-7s, and he went 10-of-19 in 11-on-11s with an interception. Rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler picked off Brady on a pass intended for wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins.
Check out the rest of NESN.com’s practice observations from Monday:
-Butler and tight end Rob Gronkowski wore red non-contact jerseys. Gronkowski participated in 7-on-7 drills for the first time since training camp opened three weeks ago. The Patriots were not wearing pads, and the drills were non-contact. It’s a good sign for Gronkowski’s recovery from a torn ACL, however.
-After an up-and-down performance against the Redskins, cornerback Logan Ryan had a solid practice with two pass breakups in 7-on-7s. Butler, cornerback Daxton Swanson and linebacker Jamie Collins also made nice plays in team drills.
-Fullback James Develin had three drops in team drills. Thompkins, Boyce and wide receiver Brian Tyms also had drops during practice.
-Wide receiver Julian Edelman made a one-handed grab on a deep pass from Brady during 11-on-11s. He had to slow down and catch the ball over cornerback Kyle Arrington and safety Patrick Chung.
-Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano attended practice and was keeping a close watch from the field. Most guests to practice stay on the sidelines. Boston College men’s hockey coach Jerry York also attended practice.
-Rookie linebacker James Morris, who was recently re-signed after being cut in May, participated in individual linebacker drills while the rest of the team was working in 11-on-11s.
-Rookie defensive tackle Dominique Easley and wide receiver Aaron Dobson participated in positional drills, but not team drills in their first practice off the PUP list.
Photo via Rafael Suanes/USA TODAY Sports Images