Patriots

Garoppolo ready for next opportunity to show what he can do

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Garoppolo ready for next opportunity to show what he can do

NEW ORLEANS - Last year at this time, Jimmy Garoppolo was a novelty. What did the second round quarterback have? Would he be able to adjust to the complexities of the NFL after playing at Eastern Illinois?
 
To his credit, Garoppolo handled all that was thrown his way, with the light going on in the preseason opener against the Redskins and eventually leading to being named Tom Brady’s backup. 
 
This season, through no fault of his own, there are different expectations for Garoppolo. Right now, he is the starting quarterback for the first four games of the season, unless Brady’s suspension is overturned by a federal judge or a settlement comes into play. Is the now second-year pro ready for that?
 
“i think we’re going in the right direction,” said Garoppolo following practice with the Saints this week. “It’s a day by day thing. You can’t look too far ahead. If we start looking too far past these preseason games, things could start getting ugly, so i just gotta take it day by day, not really looking too far ahead. The rest will take care of itself.”
 
Garappolo heads into Saturday night's second preseason game here in New Orleans having gotten exactly zero repetitions with the first team offense in Thursday’s second joint practice session with the Saints. He watched as Brady put on a clinic, despite all the uncertainty that swirls around the future Hall of Famer.
 
“He’s unbelievable at preparing week in, week out,” admired Garoppolo. “Just being a young guy, you look at that, you know it’s a long season, you try to take a little bit of that and put it toward your game.”
 
Garoppolo has had an uneven training camp, but there were signs during the second half of the preseason opener versus Green Bay and again during his late work against the Saints on Wednesday that perhaps he’s building some positive momentum as we draw nearer to a decision on Brady’s immediate future.
 
“It can’t hurt. It definitely can’t hurt,” said Garoppolo when I asked about the possibility of a strong finish to practice carrying over to the next day. “It’s a long practice. There’s gonna be ups and downs. As a quarterback, you have to be levelheaded. It’s always next play, next play, and if you do that, good things will happen.”
 
That’s precisely what the Patriots are banking on Saturday night.

Tomlin/Steelers vs. Belichick/Patriots: Different strokes for different folks

Tomlin/Steelers vs. Belichick/Patriots: Different strokes for different folks

FOXBORO -- Mike Tomlin has been Pittsburgh’s head coach since 2007, named to the post at the ripe old age of 35. A year later, he and the Steelers won a Super Bowl.

More Lombardi Trophies seemed certain to follow, but -- despite a half-dozen seasons of 10 wins or more -- Pittsburgh and that stacked roster has come up short ever since, including an AFC Championship Game loss at New England last season.

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You might think that would dim Tomlin’s confidence. No chance. He may be a decade older, but he still has oodles of swagger. We saw that earlier in the year when during an interview with Tony Dungy prior to Sunday Night Football, he admitted to looking ahead to the Steelers’ matchup with the Pats.

"I'm going to embrace the elephant in the room. (The game) going to be fireworks," Tomlin said in that conversation. "And it's probably going to be Part 1. That's going to be a big game. But probably, if we're both doing what we're supposed to, the second one is really going to be a big game. Then what happens in the first is going to set up the second one, which is going to determine the location of the second one."

You’d never hear Bill Belichick go that route and he’s won five Super Bowls here in New England. We are now conditioned to believe that’s not only the right way but the only way to do business. I would tend to agree. History doesn’t lie.

Tomlin, however. isn’t adopting Belichick’s public approach. He says he’ll be forthright with the media because he’s doing what he’s supposed to do in his job. Perhaps that’s a little jab at Belichick and the Pats, who have long been less than forthcoming.

“I don’t know if any of us were looking ahead, to be quite honest with you," he said "That was the way it was described by (the media). We were simply answering questions. We were doing our professional due diligence. When we do interviews and people ask us about potential big games down the road, we’re going to politely answer questions and do so honestly. That’s not us down the road, that is us simply performing our professional duties.”

An exuberant fellow, Tomlin thinks it’s foolish to not admit there are larger things at play during the course of a season.

“If you set out on the season to be world champs, obviously you’re going to play in significant games along the way,” he said. “The road gets increasingly narrower. That is part of being [on] the pursuit of a world championship play. It’s ridiculous to goal set and not to acknowledge natural things that occur along the way if you are committed to the pursuit of your goals.”

To reach those goals, Tomlin’s Steelers usually need to go through the Patriots. This season is no different. Right now, Pittsburgh is the top seed in the AFC. The Pats are number two but can reclaim that spot with a win Sunday afternoon.

The Patriots may not have a real rival in the AFC East, but what they have with the Steelers is real.

“It's an awesome thing to be a part of," said Tomlin. "Not something that I or we take for granted. To be in significant games is just part of chasing what it is that we're chasing and to have a routine dance partner that just speaks to their commitment and achievements in similar ways. We're excited to be a part of it. We don't take it for granted. We realize that these type games are just part of what we desire to be.”

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Cannon on season-ending IR among Patriots moves

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Cannon on season-ending IR among Patriots moves

Patriots starting right tackle Marcus Cannon was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Wednesday in a series of roster moves announced by the team.MOR

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As had been reported Tuesday, wide receiver Kenny Britt, released by the Browns last week, was signed. Also, defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois was re-signed (he had been released Dec. 2) and linebacker Jonathan Freeny and wide receiver Bernard Reedy were released.

Cannon, 29, has missed six games, including the past five, with an ankle injury. The veteran offensive lineman had his best season in 2016 and was rated by Pro Football Focus as the top right tackle last season. LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming have been filling in for him.