Brady's fill-in: 2nd-year QB Garoppolo in line to take over

John Elway Supports Tom Brady's Suspension

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - As a junior in high school, Jimmy Garoppolo studied video of Tom Brady. As a rookie in the NFL, he watched the superstar in practice.

He looked and learned.

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Jimmy Garoppolo through his career
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Brady's fill-in: 2nd-year QB Garoppolo in line to take over
FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 22: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots smiles after defeating the Carolina Panthers in a preseason game at Gillette Stadium on August 22, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 22: Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo talks to the media in the Patriots locker room before practice on January 22, 2015. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 28: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots passes the ball during the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on December 28, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 12: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots warms up before the first half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 12, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
BOSTON - FEBRUARY 4: Patriots quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo, left, and Tom Brady, right, enjoy the Patriots Super Bowl victory parade with Brady's son, Benjamin, from atop a duck boat. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 21: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots smiles during pre-game before playing the Oakland Raiders at Gillette Stadium on September 21, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 30: The Patriots camp training camp was held at the practice field next to Gillette Stadium. Jimmy Garoppolo throws a pass. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FAIRHOPE, AL - JANUARY 20: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the South team participates in drills during a Senior Bowl practice session at Fairhope Stadium on January 20, 2014 in Fairhope, Alabama. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 21: Former Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo speaks to the media during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 21, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 16: Jimmy Garoppolo of the Eastern Illinois Panthers speaks during the Sports Network's 27th Annual FCS Awards Presentation at the Sheraton Society Hill on December 16, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Aug 22, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) against the New Orleans Saints during the first quarter of a preseason game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
FOXBOROUGH, MA - SEPTEMBER 14: New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo talks with the media about his first win as a starting quarterback at practice at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Sept. 14, 2016. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots communicates at the line of scrimmage during the first half against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots warms up before the game against the Buffalo Bills on October 30, 2016 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. New England defeats Buffalo 41-25. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 01: New England Patriots Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) warms up on the field before the start of the NFL football game between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins on January 1, 2017, at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL. (Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 01: New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) answers questions from the media during the New England Patriots Press Conference on February 02, 2017, at the JW Marriott Galleria, in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: (L-R) Jimmy Garoppolo #10, Tom Brady #12 and Jacoby Brissett #7 of the New England Patriots run on the field prior to Super Bowl 51 against the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 07: Quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo of the New England Patriots during the Victory Parade through the streets of Boston on February 7, 2017, in Boston, Massachusetts to celebrate winning Super Bowl LI. (Photo by Richard Cashin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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In the 2015 opener, the spectator will be Brady if his four-game suspension isn't overturned on appeal. Garoppolo, the heir apparent to the New England Patriots quarterback, should get his chance much sooner than expected.

Is the second-year pro from a second-tier school up to it?

"I have confidence in the kid," said Jeff Christensen, a quarterback tutor who has worked with Garoppolo for nearly 10 years.

In Garoppolo's favor: a full season plus this offseason learning from Brady, the mediocre competition in the AFC East, and playing for coach Bill Belichick.

Working against him: not having faced major college teams, a lack of NFL experience, and a national spotlight on him as the replacement for a star whose reputation was tarnished in the scandal known as "Deflategate."

And what about the team? Could Brady's suspension for his role in deflating footballs in last season's AFC title game seriously harm New England's chances to repeat as Super Bowl champions?

Last season, the Patriots started just 2-2 even with Brady. Then he led them to the title.

In 2008, they went 11-5 with Matt Cassel at quarterback after Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter of the first game.

"The best example in the history of football is right in front of you," Christensen said Tuesday. "Didn't (Drew) Bledsoe get hurt in Tom's second year?"

He did.

Bledsoe suffered a serious chest injury against the New York Jets in the second game and didn't play again in the 2001 regular season as Brady led the Patriots to the Super Bowl championship.

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Tom Brady Suspended reaction tweets
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Brady's fill-in: 2nd-year QB Garoppolo in line to take over
Tom Brady is STILL the NFL's best QB. With properly inflated footballs he torched an all-time great Seattle D, especially in 4th quarter.
They had no definitive proof against Tom Brady or #patriots. If Hillary doesn't have to produce Emails, why should Tom? Very unfair!
Gotta be consequences for your actions
Why did the patriots slap me with a lifelong suspension I didn't even do anything
I think the suspension is warranted, they came down hard on the organization though. #Deflategate
Tom Brady's phone has been blowing up since getting suspended 4 games for #DeflateGate: http://t.co/wf5eAMvGiX
Tom Brady's punishment is spending a month at home with Gisele. Dude wins even when he's losing.
Do you think Tom Brady is feeling a little deflated?
@fzlongotoon Tom Brady cheated. 4 games is too little
Wait so Ray Rice got 2 days suspension for beating his wife and Tom Brady got 4 days for most likely knowing about the balls being deflated?
October 18th will be quite a day here in Indy
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The common denominator is Belichick, who keeps winning despite frequent roster turnover. He thought enough of Garoppolo coming out of Eastern Illinois to use a second-round pick on a player who threw 53 touchdowns with nine interceptions as a senior. And he can simplify the game plan for Garoppolo.

"Growing from being a rookie in minicamp to where I am now, I feel a lot more confident," Garoppolo said five days before the Patriots' 28-24 Super Bowl win over the Seattle Seahawks.

"He's been practice player of the week for us a number of weeks, probably could've been more, for the look that he gives the defense," Belichick said of Garoppolo's role mimicking opposing quarterbacks.

Success would have to come in the spotlight. The Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the kickoff of the NFL season on Sept. 10. New England will be at Buffalo and then host Jacksonville in the weeks following.

Then comes a bye, an extra week for Garoppolo to prepare.

The fourth game is at Dallas and Tony Romo, another Eastern Illinois quarterback.

If the four-game suspension stands, Brady would return Oct. 18 at Indianapolis, the team that complained about the use of deflated balls in its 45-7 loss in the AFC championship game.

But Brady can participate in all offseason activities with Garoppolo nearby to soak up whatever he can.

"In practice, when he's standing behind Brady he's going through the exact same reads Tom is and seeing exactly the rhythm of how he does it," said Christensen, a former quarterback at Eastern Illinois drafted in the fifth round by Cincinnati in 1983. "If you're really good mentally, you can get a lot of value out of that."

When he first worked with the teenage Garoppolo, who was making the transition at a suburban Chicago high school from linebacker to quarterback, Christensen showed him video of Brady.

"Everything I taught was based off of what Brady does technique-wise," Christensen said.

As an NFL rookie, Garoppolo played in six games. He completed 19 of 27 passes for 182 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

His fourth pass as a pro was a 13-yard touchdown to Rob Gronkowski. On the previous play, he connected with Brandon LaFell for 37 yards.

Garoppolo entered that 41-14 loss at Kansas City that dropped New England to 2-2 with about 10 minutes left after Brady threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

"Anybody that wonders if Jimmy can do OK, I would just say this," Christensen said. "Go put on that Kansas City film. He made some good, accurate throws."

But it remains to be seen if he can succeed as a starter with a lot more pressure and attention.

"I think he'll play well," Christensen said.

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Look back at the 'Deflategate' scandal
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Brady's fill-in: 2nd-year QB Garoppolo in line to take over
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 31: Quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots leaves federal court after contesting his four game suspension with the NFL on August 31, 2015 in New York City. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman had required NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Brady to be present in court when the NFL and NFL Players Association reconvened their dispute over Brady's four-game Deflategate suspension. The two sides failed to reach an agreement to their seven-month standoff. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 22: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots participates in warmups prior to a preseason game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 22, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 12: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady leaves federal court after appealing the National Football League's (NFL) decision to suspend him for four games of the 2015 season on August 12, 2015 in New York City. The NFL alleges that Brady knew footballs used in one of last season's games was deflated below league standards, making it easier to handle. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell leaves the Federal District Courthouse August 12, 2015 in New York. Brady and NFL. Goodell and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady met with Judge Richard M. Berman who questioned both sides about Bradys four-game suspension for his role in the 'deflate-gate' scandal after the NFL decided Brady was aware that the balls were deflated in the first half of the Super Bowl final in January 2015. AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 28: A fan taunts Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots as he takes the field during their preseason NFL game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on August 28, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 12: New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady arrives at federal court to appeal the National Football League's (NFL) decision to suspend him for four games of the 2015 season on August 12, 2015 in New York City. The NFL alleges that Brady knew footballs used in one of last season's games was deflated below league standards, making it easier to handle. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 13: A fan holds a 'Free Brady' sign in the crowd referencing Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots during a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Gillette Stadium on August 13, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
A group of people wearing 'Deflategate' hats wait outside federal court during a conference meeting between New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. Berman seems intent on getting a settlement of a dispute over Brady's four-game suspension for his role in using underinflated game balls -- in what's come to be known as Deflategate. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 12: New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady arrives at federal court to appeal the National Football League's (NFL) decision to suspend him for four games of the 2015 season on August 12, 2015 in New York City. The NFL alleges that Brady knew footballs used in one of last season's games was deflated below league standards, making it easier to handle. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - MAY 24: Ryan Desilets and Jon Harmon both from Milford, Massachusetts, show support for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady at the 'Free Tom Brady' rally at Gillette Stadium on May 24, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The rally was held in protest of Brady's four game suspension for his role in the 'deflategate' scandal. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 22: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady speaks to the media at a press conference at Gillette Stadium about the under-inflated footballs used in the AFC Championship Game. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
PHOENIX - JANUARY 27: The annual 'Media Day' for the Super Bowl was held at the US Airways Arena in downtown Phoenix. Players and coaches from first the New England Patriots, then the Seattle Seahawks, spent over an hour taking questions from the media. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looked unusually upbeat as he listened to a question. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Behind the scenes: Making the Super Bowl XLIX footballs! #SB49 đź“·: Rick Osentoski/AP
Making of the @SuperBowl XLIX footballs [PHOTOS]: http://t.co/qayPQfqt0A #SB49 http://t.co/0dQRKYgClH
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 22: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady speaks to the media at a press conference at Gillette Stadium about the under-inflated footballs used in the AFC Championship Game. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 22: New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick speaks to the media on January 22, 2015 on issues surrounding under-inflated footballs used during the AFC Championship Game. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 22: New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick spoke to the media on January 22, 2015 on issues surrounding under-inflated footballs used during the AFC Championship Game. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 22: New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick speaks to the media on January 22, 2015 on issues surrounding under-inflated footballs used during the AFC Championship Game. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 26: A fan holds a sign referencing 'deflate-gate,' the under inflation of footballs used by the Patriots during the AFC Championship game, during the New England Patriots Send-Off Rally at City Hall Plaza on January 26, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Patriots will face the Seattle Seahawks in Superbowl XLIX on Sunday. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 18: Umpire Carl Paganelli #124 holds a ball on the field after a play during the 2015 AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on January 18, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. It was reported on January 19, 20015 that the league is looking into the apparent use of deflated footballs by the New England Patriots during their game. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 and Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots celebrate after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 to win Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with the vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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