Tom Brady did his best to set the record straight: There is no "rift" between him and Jimmy Garoppolo. Anyone who says there has been, Brady told Westwood One's Jim Gray on Thursday night, is simply trying to divide the Patriots locker room.
"I think there's obviously a lot of things that are said over the course of a season to try to divide our team," Brady said. "That's never been what our team has been about. I want all the players on our team to do great. Certainly, Jimmy, I know him really well. He's really done a great job preparing himself, and I'm excited to see how he makes the most of his opportunity."
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Brady's interactions with Garoppolo were closely analyzed all summer, through training camp and into the preseason. His strong desire to play exhibition football, robbing Garoppolo of game-action snaps, was viewed by some as Brady's way of marking his territory as New England's starter. Garoppolo's admission that it has been a "smoother operation" since Brady began serving his suspension did nothin but stoke the flames of perceived discord between a Hall of Fame quarterback and his four-week replacement.
Brady's response to that speculation on Thursday doesn't mean he was thrilled to let Garoppolo take first-team snaps during training camp. It doesn't mean there might not be some awkwardness between two players who would rather be playing than watching.
But in speaking with Gray, Brady made it sound as though he hopes Garoppolo performs up to his potential in Weeks 1-4 while keeping the team's No. 1 quarterback seat warm.
Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater has signed a two-year deal to return to the team, according to an ESPN's Mike Reiss.
Slater had made a free-agent visit to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday. The seven-time Pro Bowl special teams ace, who turns 33 in September, has spent the past 10 seasons in a New England. Slater, one of the veteran leaders in the locker room, signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract extension in 2016.
The Patriots traded with the Oakland Raiders for kick returner/wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson earlier this week to bolster their special teams.
A new catch rule is coming to the NFL.
So, controversies such as the Jesse James' touchdown reversal in the Steelers' loss to the Patriots in December and the Kelvin Benjamin call in the Bills-Pats game a week later likely would have resulted in upheld TDs under the new rule.
According to the Washington Post, Troy Vincent, the NFL VP of football operations, said competition committee members plan to propose getting rid of portions of the rule related to a receiver going to the ground while making a catch and to slight movement of the football while it’s in the receiver’s hands. Vincent also said the committee also intends to raise the bar by which an on-field ruling of a catch could be overturned via replay review.
That apparently was what was done in Super Bowl 52, when the Eagles' Corey Clement's juggling TD catch was not overturned via replay.
“We worked backward,” said Vincent told the Post. “We looked at plays and said: Do you want that to be a catch? And then we applied that to the rule.”
The rule modifications could be approved by the competition committee as early Tuesday, the Post reported, and owners will meet next week in Orlando to vote on it. Rule changes must be approved by at least 24 of the 32 franchises. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been pushing for the catch rule to be modified.