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New England Patriots' Jimmy Garoppolo takes strange environment in stride

By The Sports Xchange
New England Patriots' Jimmy Garoppolo takes strange environment in stride
New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) throws a pass in the third quarter of the preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on August 13, 2015. Photo by Matthew Healey/ UPI | License Photo

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has started each of the Patriots first two preseason games this summer as he prepares to open the season with the first four starts of his professional career filling in for the suspended Tom Brady.

Bill Belichick made it clear the day before training camp opened that getting Garoppolo ready for the regular season opener in Arizona was the team's "priority."

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But there is certainly an interesting dynamic at play this summer in Foxborough. The Patriots have been Brady's team for some 15 years. He's been around all summer and will be until his suspension sends him away for four weeks, beginning the week leading up to the opener.

So in some ways two quarterbacks are leading and taking the reins as the starter in New England, creating a strange working dynamic.

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"It's a tough situation at times, but you can't worry about that too much," Garoppolo said. "It's one of those things where if you start worrying about that, then you can't focus on whatever it is -- your reads, your checks, whatever it may be. You just have to go about your business the same way you always have. I'm not trying to do something crazy and do something I've never done before, I'm trying to be myself and do what I do."

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The backup-turned-fill-in-starter made it clear, though, that Brady has done his best to help out his understudy.

"We have a ton of conversations, day in and day out. We're together 24/7, but he's been helpful this whole way," Garoppolo said. "Whether it's encouragement, helping me with little things here and there, he's been nothing but helpful and I thank him for that."

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--Belichick made a number of transactions this week, releasing a handful of veterans a week in advance of the mandated cut down to 75 players on Aug. 30. Center Bryan Stork (traded), wide receiver Nate Washington, running back Donald Brown, defensive back E.J. Biggers and defensive tackle Frank Kearse all have multiple years of NFL experience and the early release gives them a chance to potentially snag a job elsewhere. While that clearly wasn't the sole reason for the moves, Belichick acknowledged it's a side benefit to the players.

"The intent of doing what we've done with the roster is because of where we are, what we feel like is best for our team at this point in time, although I think that some of the moves that we made are also best for some of the players as well, to be honest with you," Belichick said. "Not that that's the main reason that we did it but it's a part of the residual of doing what's right for everybody.

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"Obviously injuries, they're a factor at this time of year for every team so there are some positions where you need depth, some positions where you have depth and you can't play everybody. I think that's definitely the case and in some positions for us we have more players than we can really play against Carolina, so if we're not going to play them and then we're going to have to release them at the 75 cut after the game, then there is an argument to just doing that now which gives the player an opportunity that kind of clears it up for us a little bit. I think there is some of that."

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