Patriots

Patriots

Josh McDaniels used a four-letter word when asked if he’s concerned about uncertainty surrounding Tom Brady’s availability for the start of the season.

“Nope,” said the Patriots offensive coordinator Thursday after the team’s first full practice of training camp. “We have so many things to do in terms of just building a foundation for this year. We’re not talking about the Green Bay Packers (the Patriots opening opponent in the preseason), we’re not talking about anything else other than what we can accomplish each day at practice.”

There’s obviously a great chance Brady won’t be available for the opener or any of the Patriots’ first four games thanks to the suspension handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and upheld by arbitrator Roger Goodell.

Practice reps will be a camp-long focus at the quarterback position. Brady’s second-year backup Jimmy Garoppolo needs snaps now that he’s been plunked down at the most important position for the defending Super Bowl champions. They will come, of course, at the expense of the three-time Super Bowl MVP. McDaniels says there’s no focus on that now nor is it on anyone’s radar.

“It’s the same as it’s always been,” he said. “Today was very close to 50-50 but that’s normal. We haven’t discussed anything like (accelerating reps for Garoppolo) and there’s no changes to our procedure in terms of how we’re gonna build the football team.”

Garoppolo looked capable on Thursday. But it wasn’t a full-pad practice with full-on hitting and he should look capable. It’s worth pointing out, though, how awful Garoppolo was in his first few camp practices. He’s made some leaps.  

“(Rookie year) is a struggle for any player, then you come back to OTAs and minicamps and that kind of thing and it’s the fourth or fifth or sixth time you’ve heard those things and the game seems to slow down,” said McDaniels. “I think he’s certainly a second-year player now. There were a lot of mistakes by a lot of guys and we will correct as many as we can. I think every player comes into his second training camp more comfortable about playing in the National Football League than he did as a rookie.”

The players under McDaniels’ supervision are the ones most susceptible to being unnerved by the uncertainty. It’s been Brady’s offense and his presence is connected to the team success, their personal success, their financial futures. If you play offense for the Patriots, life is happier with Tom Brady, on that there’s no debate.  

Is McDaniels wary of making sure the focus doesn’t waver?

“The best thing you can do is focus on the things you can control,” he explained. “That’s the message we’ve given them all the time and then you gotta live that way. We focus on today’s practice, the meeting to correct today’s practice and then tonight’s installation for tomorrow’s practice. There’s a very small window of things we’re talking about and thinking about it. Our focus is on building the foundation of our team.”