By: Jake Mackey
Mandatory mini camp for the New England Patriots begins on Tuesday at 11:25 a.m. Fans will not know the extent of the session until about 1:45 p.m. It has already been reported by multiple Patriots reporters that all players are expected to attend.
The real storyline this year, as was the case last year, is who will be taking the majority of reps at quarterback.
With Tom Brady’s four-game suspension looking more likely than at this time last year, the Patriots need to start preparing for Jimmy Garoppolo to be the starter for the first four games. Last year, the reps were about equal, and at one session Garoppolo threw five interceptions.
It is not as much about the reps at mini camp, it is about who the reps are with. If Garoppolo takes the majority of snaps with the likes of Keshawn Martin, Aaron Dobson, and Brandon Bolden then I will not read too much into it. What you should raise your eyebrows at is if Jimmy G is throwing to Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, and Chris Hogan. If Bill Belichick and the coaching staff are really preparing for Garoppolo to be the starter, they should let Garoppolo get out there with the stars against the first-team defense, with the pressure ramped up a bit.
Mini camp essentially is an extension of OTA’s. Players are running around in helmets and shorts, and there are no one-on-one drills or live 11 on 11’s. However, one of the main differences is that at mini camp, the coaching staff starts to lose patience and the pressure gets ramped up a bit before the players are let go for summer vacation. Even if it is on the practice field without any fans watching, any pressure is good pressure for young Garoppolo because he has not been faced with any in his two seasons as a professional.
Mini camp pressure will be just a preview of what Garoppolo will see in about seven weeks when there is 10,000 fans in the bleachers and on the hill at training camp who are ready to pounce on any little misstep Garoppolo has. Neither of those stages can compare to real game situations when the season kicks off and the pressure is at an all time high.
While the fight for justice for Tom Brady continues amongst fans and on his legal team, Bill Belichick’s job is still based around winning football games. In order to get his team ready to do that right now, he has to let Jimmy Garoppolo get his feet wet with the starting offense. Yes, that will more than likely get Tom Brady annoyed, but when has an angry Tom Brady ever been a bad thing for Patriots fans?