EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Jimmy Garoppolo had all week to prepare himself for his first NFL start at quarterback.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Two days to get accustomed to a brand new NFL playbook may seem overwhelming to many in the game.

But to new Patriots tight end Tim Wright, it’s just part of the job. He caught four passes on six targets for 43 yards from Jimmy Garoppolo on Thursday night in a 16-13 loss to the Giants at MetLife Stadium.

“You know, it’€™s a great opportunity,” Wright said. “This is a great organization led by great coaches and I’€™m just taking it one day at a time. You know it’€™s still early, I’€™ve got a lot to learn and I’€™m just ready to go.”

Wright, wearing No. 81, appeared ready to assume the role that the Patriots have been missing since the departure of Aaron Hernandez. When Logan Mankins was traded to Tampa Bay on Tuesday, Wright clearly felt comfortable enough to give it a try right away.

“I mean, it’€™s business,” Wright said. “Football is football so it’€™s easy to get prepared. We’€™ve got great coaches, like I said, to get me ready and I was ready to go.”

How surprised was he by the trade?

“You know, I know the business, things happen and you have to stay ready, you have to stay on your toes and that’€™s what I did.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It would be understandable if Aaron Dobson had some hesitation in his game Thursday night in the preseason finale.

But despite having a pin placed in his left foot in March to help a stress fracture heal, Dobson looked like his old self, catching three passes for 57 yards while being targeted nine times in a 16-13 loss to the Giants. The most impressive play was his leaping 33-yard grab over a defender along the deep left sideline on a pass from Jimmy Garoppolo.

Dobson not only had to run the “go-route” aggressively, he had to out-jump the defensive back for the ball and then land hard on the turf.

“That’€™s just instinct,” Dobson said. “At that point in time, I’€™m not really worried about my foot, I’€™m just playing football.

“It was long process: from sitting out the offseason to sitting in the film room to starting to run. It just feels really good to get back out there on the field and be with my teammates.”

Dobson said there was one thing not quite up to par – his game conditioning.

“It felt good,” he said. “You know, I got tired at times but I’€™m improving.”

Now Dobson can go about the work of competing with a deep group of receivers that includes Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell, Kenbrell Thompkins and Brian Tyms, all of whom got significant playing time in the preseason before Dobson took his first snap Thursday night.

“It’€™s going to bring the best out of you, Dobson said. “I feel like our receiving corps is close and we have a brotherhood going on, but at the same time we’€™re competing. Us being that close is just bringing the best out of us.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Jimmy Garoppolo stands in the pocket and fires a pass Thursday night at MetLife Stadium. (Getty Images)

Jimmy Garoppolo stands in the pocket and fires a pass Thursday night at MetLife Stadium. (Getty Images)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Jimmy Garoppolo had all week to prepare himself for his first NFL start at quarterback.

Yes, it was just preseason but Bill Belichick wanted to give the rookie a simulation of what the work load is like getting ready to take all the snaps in practice and then take of them in a game.

The result? A bit of a bumpy start but a productive night and in the end, invaluable experience commanding an offense that is regarded as one of the most complex in the game.

He had a couple of underthrows and incompletions that resulted in punts on the first two series. He threw a first half interception when Josh Boyce appeared to turn the wrong way on an in-cut pass. And he took a bad sack in the fourth quarter.

But through it all, he finished 22-of-42 for 284 yards, a 71.9 rating, and a beauty of a touchdown toss to Aaron Dobson in the first half. He also directed the Patriots down the field in a two-minute drill before halftime with a pair of sideline passes, showing poise and skill.

How did Garoppolo feel overall?

“You know, it could have gone better,” Garoppolo said. “There was definitely some things that, you know, we messed up on, fixable things and things to learn from when you watch the film.

“I’€™m not sure. I don’€™t know. It’€™s one of the things that we’€™ll see on the film, whatever it was, that we weren’€™t clicking like we should’€™ve been. We’€™ll fix it.”

Garoppolo definitely appeared to find his groove late in the first quarter and into the second, when he led the Patriots to 10 points and a halftime tie.

“I felt pretty comfortable from the beginning, but you know, just gradually, I mean that’€™s how every game is,” Garoppolo said. “You start to pick up what they’€™re trying to do and how they’€™re trying to do it, so just gradually got more comfortable.”

Bill Belichick would not commit to whether Garoppolo had done enough to beat out Ryan Mallett and win the No. 2 quarterback job behind Tom Brady. Garoppolo said that competitive dynamic didn’t create any stress in the quarterback room.

“You know, me and Ryan, and Tom [Brady] as well, we all have good relationships with one another, help each other out, and those two guys have helped me more than anyone probably. It’€™s the same as it always was.”

Does Garoppolo feel ready to assume the No. 2 spot behind No. 12?

“Yeah, ready to do whatever they ask me to do,” he said. “Whenever an opportunity comes, whether it’€™s first, second, third, whatever it is, you have to be ready for it and I think this preseason, going into the games with the mindset that I was the starter and just preparing like that, it really helped me get ready for that.”

Here’s are more highlights from Garoppolo’s postgame press conference Thursday night at MetLife Stadium:

Q: Were you impressed with Tim Wright and the fact that he just got here?

A: Very intelligent player. He picks it up very quickly and he’€™s pretty athletic, too. He had a heck of the game along with all the other tight ends and receivers and running backs. They all played well tonight.

Q: Has it been a good week for you as far as you’€™re the guy, your ability to work through things, just get the experience on and off the bus, playing in a stadium where they just played the Super Bowl past year, just the whole week experience? Pretty good experience for you?

A: Yeah, very good. It’€™s one of those things that hopefully I look back on it in a couple of years and I really learned a lot from it and just take it and try to take the next step now. Now I know what a normal week is like for preparing to start and everything like that and it will only help me going forward.

Q: On the long touchdown pass to Aaron [Dobson] on the left side, can you go back through sort of what you saw on that?

A: Yeah, he had a go route and went up and made a tremendous play for me. It’€™s nice having receivers like that on the outside, big body guys who could go up and make a play for you and that’€™s what he did. It was a nice catch.

Q: Was that your first read on the play [the touchdown to Dobson], or were you going through your progressions there?

A: Going through it, yeah. I mean he beat the guy and just got to lay a ball up there for him to go get and he did that.

Q: On the flipside, what do you remember about the interception? What happened on that play?

A: The ball got away from me a little bit, sailed a little high and you know you can’€™t sail one high with defenders behind the receivers. That’€™s what happens when you do that. It’€™s a learning experience, wish it wouldn’€™t have happened, but you got to learn from it and keep it down next time.

Q: Has this been a whirlwind when you look at it? Preseason’€™s over, that’€™s done, and training camp’€™s over. I mean, has it moved really quickly?

A: It was slow in the beginning, but now that I look back on it, it flew by. I’€™m sure that’€™s just part of being a rookie, but it was a good first training camp, first preseason, learned a ton and hopefully it will benefit me later on in my career.

Q: Jimmy, in announcing that you would start this week, I think Coach [Bill] Belichick had mentioned he wanted you to experience everything that went into being a starting quarterback, including this aspect of it, the media aspect of the game. How would you describe the experience he wanted you to have through your eyes?

A: I think it was very beneficial. Coming from a small school, we didn’€™t have media like this. It’€™s good to experience the outside the locker room stuff, what goes on, the production meetings, you know, all that stuff. Like I said, I think it will only benefit me in the long run and I’€™m happy with what happened this week.

Q: How difficult is it for you to understand the offense? What I mean by that is, did you even have a playbook your senior year of college? You go from your senior year and not having a playbook to the Patriots playbook. Explain how difficult that has been.

A: It was an adjustment, it definitely was, but you know, that’€™s the NFL for you. I mean everyone has a playbook, it’€™s like learning a different language, and it’€™s just something that you have to adapt to and adapt quickly.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia assesses the performance of Patriots rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who played the entire game in the Patriots’ 16-13 loss to the New York Giants in the preseason finale Thursday night at MetLife Stadium. The game also featured the Patriots’ debut of tight end Tim Wright, acquired in a trade for Logan Mankins this week.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

With the final preseason game in the books and the final round of cuts looming this weekend, here’s one last shot at predicting the final 53-man roster.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Bill Belichick may very well know already who will serve as the back-up quarterback to Tom Brady this season.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Bill Belichick may very well know already who will serve as the back-up quarterback to Tom Brady this season. But after Jimmy Garoppolo played every offensive snap of Thursday’s 16-13 preseason-ending loss at MetLife Stadium, he wasn’t really in a mood to share.

After Garoppolo went 22-of-42 for 284 yards, with a touchdown and an interception, Belichick was asked if he’s come to some sort of conclusion about his back-up quarterback.

“No,” Belichick replied.

Is Mallett still the de facto No. 2? “I haven’t announced about any starters or anybody,” Belichick said.

Reminded that Mallett was the No. 2 last year, Belichick offered this insight.

“Last year doesn’t have anything to do with it,” Belichick said. “This year is this year. This year is this year. This year is this year.”

Garoppolo played in all four games this preseason, going 46-of-79 for 618 yards, with five touchdowns and the one interception Thursday night.

Mallett, who did not play a single snap Thursday, appeared in three preseason games and was 14-of-26 for 161 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

In the preseason finale for both teams, the Giants edged the Patriots 16-13 Thursday night at MetLife Stadium.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo

In the preseason finale for both teams, the Giants edged the Patriots 16-13 Thursday night at MetLife Stadium.

Jimmy Garoppolo got the start at quarterback for the Patriots, and went 22-for-42 for 284 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. New England also got three catches for 57 yards and a touchdown from Aaron Dobson, while James White had 61 yards from scrimmage (29 rushing, 32 receiving) and Kenbrell Thompkins had five catches for 46 yards.

On the other side of the ball, the Giants started their regulars, with quarterback Eli Manning in the game for two series — he went 1-for-4 for zero yards.

The Patriots will open the regular season a week from Sunday against the Dolphins in Miami.

Here are 10 things we learned about the Patriots Thursday night:

There was some potential clarification on the status of some of the veterans who might have been on the bubble.

It’s important to notice who played and who didn’t, because we know that if you pull a DNP-CD in the final preseason game of the summer, you have a good chance of making it through the final round of cuts. Armed with that knowledge, the fact that Brandon Bolden, Stevan Ridley, Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly were some of the regulars who didn’t play speaks well when it comes to them making the roster. Not that there’s been any debate about the rest, but it is worth mentioning that others who did not play included Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Darrelle Revis, Julian Edelman, Vince Wilfork, Rob Ninkovich, Devin McCourty, Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui, Sebastian Vollmer, Chris Jones and Sealver Siliga

Jimmy Garoppolo looked competitive against a No. 1 defense.

Garoppolo’s first two drives stalled out, as New England failed to cross midfield on both occasions against the New York starters. The third drive ended with a pick by New York’s Zack Bowman on a play where there was a clear miscommunication between the quarterback and wide receiver Josh Boyce. However, he and the rest of the offense broke through with a very nice sequence on New England’s fourth drive, which was topped off by a nice deep ball from the quarterback to Aaron Dobson, a 33-yard pass play on a go route that made it 7-3 early in the second quarter. However, his best work of the night probably came at the end of the half in the sort of situational work that Bill Belichick craves — with 3:31 left in the second quarter, he engineered a series that got New England to the Giants’ 19-yard line, and ended with a field goal with 18 seconds left. It was a steady, consistent sequence for Garoppolo and the offense, one that ended with them putting points on the board.

Rookies Malcolm Butler and James White appear to have done enough to ensure a roster spot.

Butler got the start again Thursday against the Giants, and again, he was extremely competitive over the course of the evening. From this viewpoint, the rookie out of West Alabama has done enough to earn that last cornerback spot on the roster. His situation might get a little dicey when Brandon Browner returns from his suspension after the first month of the season, but as it stands right now, he’s made it. In addition, while he isn’t exactly a bull between the tackles, James White has displayed enough (both in special teams and on offense) to land a spot on the final 53 as well.

The Patriots best option at strong safety might be a cornerback.

Over the course of the summer, a few Patriots corners appeared to get a lot of work in in modified safety-type of roles. We saw it from Kyle Arrington in practices and previous preseason games, and on Thursday against the Giants, Alfonzo Dennard started and filled the spot, working as a safety/slot cornerback. It was an interesting look, and something worth keeping an eye on during the regular season. It increases positional versatility, and allows the Patriots to offer some different looks.

There are still some questions about the depth chart at wide receiver.

The Patriots gave a lot of different receivers run on Thursday, with Josh Boyce getting a lot of work. The pass catcher out of TCU, considered to be a prime bubble candidate, had some good moments (he hooked up with Garoppolo on a nice slant route early in the first half), but there was also some not-so-good (he appeared to be the one at fault for the Garoppolo pick later in the first half). He played late in the game, and ended with two catches for 26 yards. The receiver who did the most to help himself was second-year man Aaron Dobson — in his first game action of the summer, the Marshall product finished with three receptions for a team-high 57 yards and a touchdown, a really nice scoring strike from Garoppolo.

The Patriots still don’t have a regular kick returner.

New England went through the preseason without finding a singular individual who could seize the kick returning job. Boyce was the choice to get the bulk of the reps on Thursday, and ended with one return for 21 yards. As we’ve said on several occasions, New England settled on LeGarrette Blount last year after just one kick return in the preseason, so maybe there’s a candidate who has yet to emerge. But at this point, it appears that Boyce, Matthew Slater and Shane Vereen might have the best shot at the job, with Roy Finch and James White as outside possibilities.

There are still personnel questions about the interior of the offensive line.

Most of the starters ended up sitting, but it was a good chance to see some youngsters get some time, including center Bryan Stork, who saw his first game action of the summer, as well as draft picks Jon Halapio (at guard) and Cameron Fleming (at tackle). Preseason iron man Jordan Devey and holdover Josh Kline also got plenty of run again (Kline played deep into the fourth quarter at left guard), and will likely figure into the mix in some form or fashion once the regular season rolls around. While Stork, Devey, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly and  Marcus Cannon all figure to be part of the personnel combos along the interior, in terms of trying to figure out who might have the inside track at any one of those three interior offensive line jobs, it’s still a question mark.

Tim Wright is going to play this year. A lot.

Wright — who’s a tight end in name only — jumped into the deep end of the pool and started to swim. After only a couple of days in New England, he got the call to start, and was an active part of the offense over a sizable portion of the night. He lined up at multiple spots, and didn’t appear too overwhelmed in his first preseason action with the Patriots, finishing with four catches for 43 yards while playing deep into the contest. At first glance, there appears to be some offensive redundancy when it comes to Wright and wide receiver Brandon LaFell — both are longish targets who have the versatility needed to line up at multiple spots. However, it appears that LaFell is a better blocker than Wright. It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out going forward.

Brandon Browner and Brian Tyms played deep into the game, but that’s not that big a deal.

Traditionally, the sight of a veteran like Browner playing deep into the second half who spark comparisons to other vets who played significant snaps in the preseason finale, only to be a out of a job a week later. (In the past, it happened to Adrian Wilson and John Lynch.) But given the fact that Browner will not be able to play in the first four games of the season because of a suspension, his playing time Thursday night not a concern, at least from this viewpoint. In addition, wide receiver Brian Tyms is also in the same position, as he will miss the first four games (if he makes the squad) due to a PED violation for testing positive for Adderall. It appeared that they were simply trying to get him as many snaps as possible before he gets shut down for a stretch. (One other note about starters playing deep into Thursday’s game — Thompkins was in the game in the fourth quarter, but that was likely for logistical reasons, as with so many receivers not playing, they needed his presence out there for logistical reasons.)

They finished the preseason in relatively decent health.

In the first half, linebacker James Morris left with a knee injury. In the second half, defensive end Michael Buchanan suffered what appeared to be a right ankle issue. (Both were announced as questionable to return, but were held out down the stretch.) Meanwhile, it appears that defensive linemen Sealver Siliga and Chris Jones are getting closer to a full-time return. Considering the fact that there are several other elite-level teams who have struggled with injury over the course of the summer, the Patriots have to consider themselves fortunate when it comes to health.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price