Garoppolo takes snaps with first group in 11-on-11 period

Garoppolo takes snaps with first group in 11-on-11 period

FOXBORO -- Less than 24 hours after Patriots coach Bill Belichick called it a priority to get Jimmy Garoppolo ready to start for the first quarter of the regular season, it looked like not much had changed at Patriots practice. 

When the offense ran plays early in the session -- whether against no defense or in 7-on-7 work -- it was Tom Brady who was the first quarterback taking the snaps. 

Later in the day, however, the focus seemed to shift Garoppolo's way. He was the first quarterback to take snaps during the 11-on-11 and hurry-up periods before the practice wrapped up. It was the first sign of Patriots training camp that things will be different on the fields behind Gillette Stadium this summer as the team prepares to go without Brady during his four-game suspension to start the year. 

From Garoppolo's perspective, though, his late-practice snaps with the first group didn't necessarily feel like a watershed moment. 

"Nothing's 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. Mindset's basically the same."

Since his rookie season, as a second-round pick out of Eastern Illinois, Garoppolo has insisted that his mindset has been to prepare as the starting quarterback -- as unlikely as that was. 

Now that he has his chance, he wants to make the most of it. That starts with reliable performances in training camp as he builds trust with his teammates and coaches in a new role.

"It's a great opportunity . . . Gotta go out there, take advantage of it," he said. "You don't get many opportunities in this league, and you might only get one, so you gotta make the best of it."

Garoppolo had a solid first day of on-the-field work, going 4-for-6 in competitive 11-on-11 work. He also went 6-for-8 in 7-on-7 red zone snaps, and he was 3-for-5 (with one rep where he couldn't find an open receiver and held onto the ball) during one period where the team split the field in half to go 4-on-3. 

He also ran with first-teamers, and against the first-team defense, during a three-quarter speed 11-on-11 hurry-up period.

In terms of the sheer number of snaps in team work, Brady and Garoppolo shared the workload, getting 20 each, with Brissett getting 15. But it was the timing of those snaps that many were paying attention to. 

When Garoppolo got to work with the first group in the 11-on-11 period, he worked behind what appeared to be the first-team offensive line: left tackle Nate Solder, left guard Joe Thuney, center Bryan Stork, right guard Jonathan Cooper and right tackle Marcus Cannon.

The crowd Garoppolo was throwing to was a mix of what might be considered starters and reserves -- which the Patriots often do so that quarterbacks have some chemistry built up with all the team's weapons. His attempts went to LeGarrette Blount, DeAndre Carter, James White, Martellus Bennett, Aaron Dobson and Chris Hogan. 

Garoppolo's quick release was on display throughout, and he didn't appear to make any obvious mistakes. In fact, no Patriots quarterbacks were intercepted on the day. 

Brady, meanwhile, looked like his typically-sharp self. He was 3-for-6 in 11-on-11 work, 5-for-8 in 7-on-7 work in the red zone, and 4-for-6 in the half-field period.

It was an atypical finish to Thursday's practice, however, as someone other than Brady took the first snaps during a competitive period.

Second ex-Pats OT to make free-agent visit to Cowboys

Second ex-Pats OT to make free-agent visit to Cowboys

The Patriots, who lost left tackle Nate Solder to the Giants last week, have a couple of his possible replacements, Cameron Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle, reportedly making free-agent visits to the Dallas Cowboys.

The Fleming visit was reported Sunday. On Monday, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that Waddle will be joining his former Patriots teammate in Dallas.

Replacing Solder is obviously a key part of the Patriots offseason and retaining Waddle or Fleming could figure into those plans. Waddle, who turns 27 in July, was signed from the Detroit Lions in 2016 and appeared in 12 games last year, starting four. Fleming, a fourth-round Pats pick from Stamford in 2014, turns 26 in September and also played in 12 games last season, starting six.


What are the Patriots getting in Cordarrelle Patterson?

What are the Patriots getting in Cordarrelle Patterson?

The Patriots have made a trade with the Raiders to acquire receiver and special teamer Cordarrelle Patterson, according to a source. The deal, first reported by Pardon My Take, is an interesting one because it lands Patterson with the team that passed on the opportunity to draft him back in 2013. 


Bill Belichick dealt the No. 29 overall pick to the Vikings that year in exchange for four selections, including a second-rounder and a third-rounder. The second-rounder became Jamie Collins, and the third became Logan Ryan. The Patriots also took Josh Boyce with a fourth they received in the trade, and the fourth pick (a seventh) was traded to Tampa Bay in exchange for LeGarrette Blount. The Vikings took Patterson. 

Patterson's career to this point has been a mixed bag. One of the top athletes in the 2013 draft, the Tennessee product never quite panned out as a go-to No. 1 receiver. He has not missed a game in five seasons, but he has never cracked 600 offensive snaps in a single season. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder has turned himself into more of a gadget receiver as well as one of the game's best special teamers. 

Here's what the Patriots are getting in Patterson . . . 

TOP-TIER SPECIAL TEAMER: Patterson has solidified himself as one of the NFL's best kick-returners. In five seasons, he's ranked as the top returner in terms of average yards per return three times. He's never been outside of the top 10 in the league in that category. Last year he was sixth in the NFL with a 28.3 yards per return average. Patterson has also become a highly-effective gunner on punt units, a role he thrived in once he embraced it, and he has kick coverage experience. Patterson has not been a punt-returner. He has just one punt return under his belt compared to 153 kick returns. Patterson has been named a First-Team All-Pro twice for his work in the kicking game. 

INCONSISTENT RECEIVER: Patterson has never been able to take his explosiveness and translate that into consistent production offensively. He's not thought of as a precise route-runner, and he has a reputation as a "body-catcher." Yet, because he's so dynamic with the ball in his hands, offenses in Oakland and Minnesota have found ways to get the ball in his hands. He'll align in the backfield, take reverses and catch screens just to try to get him the ball in space where he can let his natural abilities take over. If he gets a crease, he can create a chunk play in a blink. 

THE COST: Patterson is in the second year of a two-year deal he signed with the Raiders last offseason. He has a base salary of $3 million and a cap hit of $3.25 million. The Patriots will be sending a fifth-rounder to the Raiders and getting a sixth-rounder back. (As an aside . . . The Patriots have used one fifth-round pick in the last six drafts. It was spent on long-snapper Joe Cardona. Why are they constantly dealing fifths away? Inside the Pylon's Dave Archibald did an interesting piece on that topic about a year and a half ago. The gist is that a) there's a significant drop-off in your chances of finding a star in the fifth compared to the fourth, and b) the talent in the fifth round, by some metrics, hasn't proven to be all that different from the sixth or seventh rounds.) 

THE FIT: Patterson is a relatively low-risk acquisition because of his cap hit (which on the Patriots slots him in between Shea McClellin and Chris Hogan) and because of the draft capital required to nab him. Trading for a player like Patterson as opposed to signing another team's free agent has the added benefit of not impacting the compensatory-pick formula. Patterson also fills a few needs. His abilities as a kick-returner will be more than suitable with last year's primary kick returner for the Patriots, Dion Lewis, out of the mix. What Patterson can do as a gunner and in kick coverage will also be useful with Johnson Bademosi now elsewhere. There's also a chance Matthew Slater plays in a different city in 2017, in which case Patterson's contributions as a gunner and in kick coverage could be critical. With Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman and Hogan all established in the Patriots offense, Patterson won't be expected to take on a heavy role in the Patriots offense. However, if he can pick up a new system, perhaps he could take on a role as a No. 4 or 5 wideout who benefits from plays designed to get him touches in space. Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett and Kenny Britt -- now alongside Patterson -- will all be competing for time in New England's offense. Former Patriots coaching assistant Mike Lombardi seems to believe it's unlikely Patterson contributes offensively