Patriots

The future isn't now for Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo

The future isn't now for Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo

HOUSTON -- Ever since Tom Brady took Father Time over his knee and gave him a dose of corporal punishment, Jimmy Garoppolo's future with the Patriots has been dissected more times than those damn frogs in sixth-grade science class (and yes, I'm convinced it was the same 25 every year). To his credit, Garoppolo has tried to downplay all talk, especially this week with Super Bowl Sunday looming.

SUPER BOWL LI: FRIDAY REPORT

"There's a lot of talk about it," he told me earlier in the week. "People have been asking me about it but right now and for the rest of the week, it's all Falcons. There are just so many things going on. It's a hectic week. Just to focus on that [the Falcons] alone is all I can do."

But the latest batch of rumors for NFL insiders continues to bubble to the surface. Cleveland is reportedly interested. Now Chicago.

"Yeah, I mean I've heard those. Lot of things going on, rumors, but that's all they are, rumors."

I repeated Chicago though, his hometown team. I got a big smile but nothing more. Another reporter asked if that was important to him? Playing close to home?

"It's not really my call. We'll see what happens."

Instead, Garoppolo is choosing to remain locked in on preparing for the speedy Falcons defense and the knowledge that he could find himself in the game as quick as you can snap your fingers.

"I have to prepare. And I'm working hard every day to do that."

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, a big advocate of Garoppolo's dating all the way back to his draft year, has no doubt the 25-year-old would be ready to go.

"He's a professional now," said McDaniels. "He's not a rookie anymore. He understands what that means, to go through a practice week and know that you're not starting but you're going in after the first series depending on what happens. I think he approached it the right way, had a great mindset, great attitude, worked extremely hard to be ready to go and tried to go out there and do his job."

Falcons backup quarterback Matt Schaub was once in the very position Garoppolo finds himself in now, a young, promising backup playing behind a franchise quarterback (or at least what Atlanta thought was a franchise QB in Michael Vick).

"Having been in similar shoes of his way back in my career, you can only control what you can control and that's your job, your process -- getting yourself as ready as you can for that next game regardless of whether it's a regular-season game, a playoff game or the Super Bowl," he told me. "You've just got to be in the moment and concentrate on that. The rest will take care of itself down the road. You can't control where you're going to be in the future. You just need to focus on what you can do to get better that day."

McDaniels thinks Garoppolo has been in the right headspace and has the right approach, one born of nearly three full seasons with the Pats.

"He's learned over the course of a few years," McDaniels said. "He's been in our room for three years, He's seen Tom prepare for games. We've coached him the same way we coached every other guy in that room, and he just had an opportunity to do it and you know I think he represented himself well when he was out there. He helped us win a couple football games."

Seems more and more likely that Garoppolo will get a chance to win more than just a couple games elsewhere, if not next season then certainly the year after that when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. That's what he wants, the opportunity to be the number one guy, be it here or somewhere else.

"That's why we play the game, to be the one out there playing," he said. "You know, it's tough not being out there, but it's an opportunity -- a great opportunity -- to come here, learn everything I can, play when I could and hopefully it will help going forward."

Doctors believe Carson Wentz has torn ACL

Doctors believe Carson Wentz has torn ACL

LOS ANGELES - Two sources familiar with the injury tell The Associated Press that doctors believe Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in a win over the Rams on Sunday and will miss the rest of the season and playoffs.

Wentz, a favorite in the NFL MVP race, will have an MRI on Monday to confirm the severity of the injury. Both people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information. Wentz left the stadium on a cart with a brace on his left leg.

"I don't know anything until we evaluate him (Monday)," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said.

Wentz was hurt late in the third quarter of Philadelphia's 43-35 comeback win at Los Angeles . Backup Nick Foles rallied the Eagles (11-2) to a win that secured the NFC East title and put them in first place in the conference with three games remaining.

"Everyone is really excited about the win but you have your starting quarterback go down, it's emotional," Foles said. "It's emotional for me. I work with him every day so I'm dealing with that."

Wentz was hit hard as he scrambled into the end zone on a play that was called back because of holding. He stayed in the game and threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery four plays later , setting the franchise record for most TD passes in a season with 33.

"It shows how tough he is," Pederson said.

Foles replaced Wentz the next drive after the Rams took a 35-31 lead. He led the Eagles to a pair of field goals on consecutive drives. Second-year pro Nate Sudfeld is Philadelphia's No. 3 quarterback.

Wentz arrived in Philadelphia as the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft out of North Dakota State. On Sunday, he dueled with Rams quarterback Jared Goff, the No. 1 pick in that draft.

After starting all 16 games as a rookie, Wentz made a giant leap this season. He passed for 3,296 yards and only seven interceptions to go with those 33 TDs.

Despite the injury, Wentz stayed in the locker room to greet teammates after the victory over the Rams (9-4).

After the game, Wentz's left knee was wrapped in a brace. He was driven in a cart up the tunnel at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and then hobbled to one of the team buses

"He's one of the leaders on the team. He was there congratulating and celebrating with everyone," Foles said.

Foles, a third-round pick by former Eagles coach Andy Reid in 2012, is in his second stint in Philadelphia. He replaced an injured Michael Vick in 2013 and led the Eagles to an NFC East title during Chip Kelly's first season as coach. Foles tied an NFL record with seven TD passes in a game at Oakland in November 2013 and finished that season with 27 TDs and only two picks. The Eagles lost at home to New Orleans in the playoffs. Foles went to the Pro Bowl and was the offensive MVP.

But Kelly traded Foles to St. Louis for Sam Bradford after the 2014 season. Foles spent a year with the Rams, a season with the Chiefs and returned to Philadelphia as a free agent this season.

"I'm absolutely ready to go - need be," Foles said. "I prepare every day."

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE