FOXBORO, Mass. — Tom Brady might be Jimmy Garoppolo’s biggest fan for the first month of the 2016 NFL season.
The New England Patriots’ success this season hinges, in part, on how Garoppolo performs for four starts while Brady serves his four-game Deflategate suspension. Garoppolo has looked slightly shaky in recent practices, but he was solid in the Patriots’ preseason opener Thursday night, in which he started and went 11-of-18 passing for 168 yards against the New Orleans Saints.
Brady has enjoyed watching his backup improve over the past two years.
“He works his tail off to prepare, and I know he has the respect of everybody,” Brady said Sunday at Patriots training camp practice. “And I think that’s what you always do, you try to come out here and earn the respect of your teammates and your coaches, and you’ve got to put the work in. You’ve got to show that you’re willing to show up every day and do whatever it takes to get the job done. So it’s been fun to see his development. We got off to a good start the other night, and hopefully we keep it going.
“We got a couple, three days of practices coming up against the (Chicago) Bears. It’ll be good preparation for our team. We’ve got to use them really well. Hopefully we can come out of Thursday night after these practices and the game a stronger team than we are now.”
Brady was excused from Thursday’s game to attend memorial services for a family member, which allowed Garoppolo to start the game. It’s unclear how the Patriots will handle quarterbacking duties Thursday against the Bears in their second preseason game.
Garoppolo has been solid competition for Brady during training camp. Brady has completed 182 of 266 passes with five interceptions in team drills, while Garoppolo has gone 174 of 267 with seven picks. Brady and Garoppolo also will practice deep passes by trying to throw a football in a barrel after training camp sessions.
“I think it’s really good to — you’re always working on different aspects of the game,” Brady said. “And it’s hard to get the receivers out here after practice and run — we probably throw 20, 25 of those balls. And it’s tough to have a receiver go, ‘Hey, run’ — after a 2 1/2-hour practice in 90-degree weather — ‘run a bunch of 30-, 40-yard routes.’ You just put the bucket out there, and that little sucker is tough to hit, man. It doesn’t move, it’s got no arms, it can’t adjust to anything. That’s why I’m glad we always have guys that have great hands and the ability to track the ball. It’s just good practice.
“He does a good job against me all the time, so he’s a good competitor.”
The relationship between a starter and backup can be complex. It seems Brady and Garoppolo have done a nice job balancing being supportive yet competitive with one another.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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