How Tom Brady Still Can Help Patriots Early Despite Deflategate Suspension

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FOXBORO, Mass. — Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension will sideline him for the first four weeks of the upcoming NFL season. He’ll be unable to practice, play, attend team meetings, receive playbooks or even play catch with his teammates for the duration of his ban.

The New England Patriots quarterback will have no participation restrictions during training camp and the preseason, however, and his presence during the lead-up to Week 1 could be more beneficial to the team than once might expect.

“It?s obviously going to be an adjustment,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said Wednesday. “We?re definitely thankful that he?s around now, and I think he brings so much to the table. There?s so much that we can learn from having him around, and obviously we all want to have a good training camp. It?s the foundation upon which the season is built, so I think he would definitely include himself in that group.

“Needless to say, there will definitely be an adjustment period for us in dealing with that, but we?re just going to take it one day at a time.”

The 18-month ordeal that followed the 2014 AFC Championship Game finally came to an end earlier this month with Brady’s announcement that he would not appeal his suspension to the U.S. Supreme Court. Head coach Bill Belichick then confirmed Wednesday what pretty everyone already figured: Jimmy Garoppolo will begin the season as New England’s starting quarterback before passing the reins back to Brady in Week 5.

“I certainly think we understand what we have to prepare for now,” Slater said. “We understand what everyone has to do moving forward. To have a little clarity with that situation is obviously going to help our quarterback situation the first four games, and we know what it is now we can prepare for it.

“I think Tom can help us prepare for it, as well, as I?m sure he will, being the leader that he is for this team. I think in that regard, the clarity helps us as far as our preparation is concerned.”

Clarity will help Belichick and Co. from a game-planning standpoint, and it also could prompt Brady to tweak his preseason preparations. As we mentioned, the QB won’t be able to work out with any of his current teammates during his suspension, meaning he’ll have to familiarize himself with new wide receiver Chris Hogan and tight end Martellus Bennett before the regular season begins.

That process will start in earnest Thursday, when the Patriots hit the field for their first fully padded, full-team practice of the summer.

Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images

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