Garoppolo impression helps Patriots prepare for Falcons

HOUSTON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - At the start of the season New England Patriots Jimmy Garoppolo was the man in the spotlight doing his best Tom Brady impersonation.

At the Super Bowl this week Garoppolo has retreated into the background, doing his best impersonation of Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan and leaving center stage to Brady, who will lead the Patriots against the Falcons in Sunday's championship game.

Such is the life of an NFL backup quarterback; leading man one day, understudy the next.

But being a backup for Brady comes with perks not normally associated with the job.

SEE ALSO: Wild stat shows how Tom Brady has dominated the NFL over his 17-year career

If the Patriots win on Sunday, Garoppolo would collect his second Super Bowl ring, more than the Packers' Aaron Rodgers and the Saints' Drew Brees, despite having never thrown a pass or even taken a snap in the National Football League's title tilt.

Garoppolo's role this week is well defined.

He will be play the part of Ryan during practice preparing the New England defense to face the Falcons' top-ranked attack and on Sunday will take his usual position on the sidelines holding a clipboard.

"I'm Matt Ryan this week so I am trying to do my best Matt Ryan impression, get the ball to his playmakers and let them make plays," Garoppolo told a small group of reporters off to the side of the media mob surrounding Brady at Super Bowl Opening Night festivities.

This season, Garoppolo's contribution to the Patriots effort was more substantial than mimicking opposing quarterbacks.

New England Patriots 2016 season (14-2 record)
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New England Patriots 2016 season (14-2 record)

Week 1: Patriots 23, Cardinals 21

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Week 2: Dolphins 24, Patriots 31

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Week 3: Texans 0, Patriots 27

(Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Week 4: Bills 16, Patriots 0

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Week 5: Patriots 33, Browns 13

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Week 6: Bengals 17, Patriots 35

(Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Week 7: Patriots 27, Steelers 16

(Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

Week 8: Patriots 41, Bills 25

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Week 9: Bye

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Week 10: Seahawks 31, Patriots 24

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Week 11: Patriots 30, 49ers 17

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Week 12: Patriots 22, Jets 17

(Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

Week 13: Rams 10, Patriots 26

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Week 14: Ravens 23, Patriots 30

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Week 15: Patriots 16, Broncos 3

(Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Week 16: Jets 3, Patriots 41

(Photo by David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

Week 17: Patriots 35, Dolphins 14

(Photo by Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

AFC Divisional Round: Texans 16, Patriots 34

(Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

AFC Championship: Steelers 17, Patriots 36

(Photo by James Lang-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)


With Brady suspended for the first four games of the regular season for his part in the Deflategate scandal, Garoppolo was given the job of keeping New England in contention until their future Hall of Fame quarterback had done his time.

The second-round pick in the 2014 draft, Garoppolo had spent his short NFL career watching Brady and not surprisingly looked like him steering the Patriots to wins in their opening two games over the Cardinals and Dolphins before going down with a shoulder injury himself.

"In this league you might never get an opportunity so to have an opportunity like that you have to be thankful for it and go take advantage of it," explained Garoppolo. "A lot of guys have stepped up and I know it sounds cliché but it's the Patriot Way."

With 39-year-old Brady saying, "I don't see any end in sight," to his playing days, speculation is the Patriots might flip Garoppolo, 25, for a high draft pick.

The Cleveland Browns, who have been on a quarterback carousel, are rumored to be interested in making a deal that would set Garoppolo up for a massive pay hike.

"I'm really trying not to (think about a trade)," smiled Garoppolo. "Right now it is just focusing on the Super Bowl."

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