FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- On the first day of training camp, the New England Patriots battled the heat and began adjusting to the reality of having two starting quarterbacks.
With Tom Brady suspended for the season's first four weeks after declining to further pursue the appeal of his Deflategate punishment, the 38-year-old veteran and 24-year-old Jimmy Garoppolo split the first-team reps Thursday.
Afterward, the third-year backup, a former second-round draft pick, addressed the media in the first of what will be regular press conferences that are part of his duty as the starter over the next two-plus months of summer and September action.
Just because Garoppolo is the starter doesn't mean he will alter his mentality.
"Nothing has really changed," he said. "When they put me in for the reps I'm in for, I'll go out there, do my best and do whatever the coaches ask. But my mindset is basically the same. I'm just trying to go out there and get my game right, trying to get the offense ready as much as we can. We've got a long way to go. Training camp is a grind, but we got to get through it."
The former Eastern Illinois star did admit that this is a chance he has worked toward all his football life.
"Very excited," Garoppolo said. "That's why we play the game. We play to get out there and get your opportunity, and when it comes, you've got to be ready for it."
While Bill Belichick was quick to make it clear Garoppolo was his starter, as well as remind all that it is Brady's job when the veteran returns, the coach wasn't so interested in mapping out exactly how he will get his young passer ready this summer to make his NFL starting debut opening night in Arizona.
"We'll do what we think is best," Belichick said of Garoppolo's reps moving forward. "Whatever we think is best, that's what we're going to do. That's the priority.
"I don't know how else I can put it. We're going to get him ready the best that we can. That's what we're going to do."
All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, one of the many proven production options who will be assisting Garoppolo the first four weeks, already sees things he likes in his fill-in passer.
"Just his power of the ball, his accuracy going out there," Gronkowski said. "The way he moves the pocket. I like how he can scramble out and keep it going if everything's not going right. He's just a competitor, a hard worker, which is always great, which always goes good with the team when you have someone that wants it and goes out there and competes."
And in true next-man-up Patriots fashion, all those playing around Garoppolo and on both sides of the ball will be expecting to fill the Brady-less void for a Belichick-led team that expects the same results regardless of who is on the field at any position.
"Obviously, you can't take the field without a guy like (Brady) and think you're just going to go out there and pick up where you left off last year and fall right into stride, but I think we have a lot of good players," said safety Devin McCourty, the defensive captain. "Jimmy has been here a couple of years now, so I think as a team we'll just come together, go out there and figure out a way to win. That's what it comes down to; we can't stick on that subject, just prepare and get ready to play."