FOXBORO, Mass. — Just nine days remain until the New England Patriots’ regular-season opener, and Jimmy Garoppolo still does not know whether he’ll be taking the first snap against the Pittsburgh Steelers or watching from the sideline as Tom Brady does.
Garoppolo’s immediate future is directly tied to Brady’s appeal of his four-game Deflategate suspension, which as of midday Tuesday had yet to be resolved. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman’s ruling in the case could come soon, but in the meantime, Garoppolo continued to champion what has been the team’s mantra all summer.
“We’re going about our business as usual,” the second-year quarterback said before Tuesday’s practice at Gillette Stadium. “Just getting ready for this next game against the (New York) Giants. Taking it day by day, and just going about our business.”
Uncertainty has the theme of the offseason for Garoppolo, who has had to prepare himself to start in Week 1 while also conceding the majority of first-team reps to Brady throughout training camp. Exceptions came on days like Monday, when Brady’s court appearance in New York required him to miss practice.
Garoppolo tries to make the most of such opportunities.
“It was good,” he said. “Whenever you get the chance to get the added reps or whatever it may be with the first team, it’s always a positive.”
In the Patriots’ three preseason games, however, Garoppolo has handled much of the heavy lifting. He has taken 158 snaps to Brady’s 43, per ESPN.com, and battled through some growing pains along the way. That was the case last Friday against the Carolina Panthers, when he misfired on two of his first three passes but completed 12 of his final 14 to finish with a passer rating of 116.3.
“You just have to have mental toughness,” Garoppolo said. “It’s never going to be a perfect game. We all want it to be, but that’s football for you. As a quarterback, you’ve got to stay levelheaded. Can’t get too high, can’t get too low and just go about your business. …
“The mental toughness is something that we try to have a lot of here. It’s very important, and we take pride in it.”
One more exhibition game remains for the Patriots, who will host the Giants on Thursday night in their preseason finale. Garoppolo likely will handle the lion’s share of snaps once again.
But is he ready to start opening night if need be? He’s not ready to declare that just yet.
“We’ll approach that when we get there,” Garoppolo said. “We’ve got a little ways to go still, so next Thursday, we’ll figure it out.”
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images