FOXBORO — If Jimmy Garoppolo indeed starts the season as the Patriots quarterback, he plans to do so with a smile on his face.


FOXBORO — If Jimmy Garoppolo indeed starts the season as the Patriots quarterback, he plans to do so with a smile on his face.

Entering his second season out of Eastern Illinois, Garoppolo is in line to start against the Steelers on Sept. 10 if Tom Brady doesn’t have his four-game suspension entirely revoked.

In his first season, Garoppolo appeared in six games, completing 19-of-27 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski in the 41-14 blowout loss at Kansas City last Sept. 29. But beyond the game experience, Garoppolo and head coach Bill Belichick both agreed Friday, after the second OTA session of the spring, that the biggest impact comes with having a full year in the Patriots’ offensive system.

“It helps all rookies to get that first year under their belt and come out in the second year,” Belichick said. “That’s usually where you see the biggest jump generally in most players, from year one to year two. They understand the system, they’ve been through it, they’ve been through the league for a year. Hopefully, we’ll see that from our group.”

“There’s a long way to go,” Garoppolo added. “We just got into OTAs, just a couple of practices under our belts. I’ll probably have a better answer in a couple of weeks or so. Obviously, a year will do that to anyone. Being with the same people, same atmosphere, all that. You get more used to it.

“Little improvements here and there that you have to pick up. Obviously, getting into the playbook, it’s a lot different. You’ve just got to adjust to it. There’s a ton to improve on. We’ve got a long way to go.”

Garoppolo should have a better idea after Brady has his appeal heard on June 23 whether he indeed will be starting against the Steelers in the opener. Garoppolo is in a strange position of feeling for his teammate whose misfortune could open a door of opportunity for him.

“He’s accomplished a ton,” Garoppolo said. “Four Super Bowl rings. That’s as impressive as it gets. You’ve got to worry about the things that you can control and coming out here every day and try to improve every day. That’s all I can worry about right now.

“I’m just going out to practice every day, trying to improve, try to get my teammates better, me better and go from there. I just have the mindset that I’m trying to get better. That’s all you can control at the end of the day.”

One area Garoppolo has learned a lot from Brady is in his diet.

“Being in the league for a year, obviously that experience, you see guys ahead of you, what they do and how they take care of their bodies. It’s a long season so you’ve got to be in tip-top shape. That’s what the offseason is for. You’ve got to eat right. That’s makes all the different. I know I’m pretty young still but as you get older, it makes a difference. Ice cream. That’s my weakness.”

Brady has often hosted an offseason throwing session with receivers in California. This winter, it was Garoppolo’s turn to get “a couple” of his receivers together, without Brady on hand, and work on getting better.

“I was out in California, throwing, got to have some nice weather out there. That was nice. A little change up. It’s nice to be back out here. I missed the guys, missed the team and everything.”

“No different than I usually would. I just went about my business, tried to get prepared for this season, got in the playbook a lot, got out there with some of the guys, threw it around so it was a good offseason.”

When he wasn’t throwing the ball or watching his diet, Garoppolo said he spent quality time with his family, savoring a Super Bowl title in his first year in the NFL.

“It was good. I got to spend some time with my family, see all of them and then get back to work,” Garoppolo said. “It’s good to get back to OTAs and get back out here with the guys. We’ve got a lot of work to do but we’re excited about it.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Finally there is a date to Tom Brady‘s appeal for his four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate.

Finally there is a date to Tom Brady‘s appeal for his four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the quarterback’s appeal will be heard June 23 and possibly continue June 25. It will be with Commissioner Roger Goodell, even after the NFLPA requested Goodell rescue himself from hearing the appeal.

The Patriots will be finished with their mandatory minicamp as that wraps up June 18.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — With Friday being the first OTA session with media access, and first team activity since the Wells Report and subsequent penalties were handed down, there were sure to be a lot of questions asked about quarterback Tom Brady.

FOXBORO — With Friday being the first OTA session with media access, and first team activity since the Wells Report and subsequent penalties were handed down, there were sure to be a lot of questions asked about quarterback Tom Brady.

Many of the players, including Rob Gronkowski, didn’t address the topic, simply discussing the team getting ready for the upcoming season.

“My take is that I just gotta keep on doing what I need to do and that’€™s preparing every day coming out here and working as hard as I can,” Gronkowski said. “Doing my job out on the field every single day. Whatever goes on with him doesn’€™t affect how I play or I prepare. I’€™m just really worried about myself right now and what I have to do to help the team out.”

The Patriots tight end, who did quite a bit of work with Brady off to the side on goal line work, was asked if he noticed anything different about the quarterback given he’s suspended for the first four games.

“No difference,” Gronkowksi said. ‘€œHe comes out here and competes every single day like nothing happened.”

Friday certainly won’t be the only time Gronkowski and his teammates will be asked about their quarterback and their thoughts on Deflategate. Gronkowski explained his mindset with how to handle that.

“When there’€™s outside distractions, you gotta block ‘€˜em out,” said Gronkowski. “You gotta come out on the field, you gotta do what you gotta do to help the team out. Just block everything out, come in the stadium like nothing’€™s going on and work hard in the weight room, on the field, in the playbook, wherever it is.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo split the quarterback duties Friday.  (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo split the quarterback duties Friday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Here are some quick takeaways from Friday’s OTA practice session, the first open to the media, which was held on the fields behind Gillette Stadium.

— Although attendance was next to impossible to take with the players not wearing numbers, even none on their helmets, here’s an unofficial list of players who weren’t present: Alan Branch, Malcolm Butler, Jamie Collins, AJ Derby, Dont’a Hightower, Chandler Jones, Chris Jones, Brandon LaFell, Jerod Mayo, Sealver Siliga, Matthew Slater, Sebastian Vollmer and Ryan Wendell. Wendell was spotted leaving the field in street clothes as the media filed in.

— Long snapper Joe Cardona, the Patriots’ fifth-round pick this year, was present even though he hasn’t officially signed. Since he is coming out of Navy he needs special clearance to delay his deployment and potentially start his career. There’s no word if that has been approved yet.

— There was a drone flying overhead for the entire session, adding to the cameras already stationed high above the field. The Cowboys were seen using one as well earlier in the week.

— Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo split the snaps fairly evenly between 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. In 11-on-11’s, Brady went 7-for-11, while Garoppolo went 8-for-11. Brady’s favorite target was Julian Edelman, while Garoppolo looked for Aaron Dobson a lot. Brady was as animated as usual, yelling lots of encouragement to his receivers.

— Brady got some goal line work with Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, Michael Hoomanawanui and James Develin. The group ran plays without facing a defense.

— On the other end of the field, Jake Bequette caught passes from third-string quarterback Garrett Gilbert. It was reported earlier Friday by ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the defensive end drafted in 2012 will get some action at tight end this summer.

— Running back Jonas Gray appeared to bulk up a great deal in the offseason. He will be in the mix in the back field, which is one of the deepest positions on the roster.

— There was a great deal of special teams work done, led by new coach Joe Judge. Edelman, Danny Amendola and Jonathan Krause all got chances to return punts.

— The team will continue with OTAs next Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, with Thursday’s session being open to the media.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO – Brandon Spikes was a member of the Patriots for four years, but that doesn’t mean things ended well.

Brandon Spikes is back with the Patriots after spending four years with the team before playing with Buffalo last year. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Brandon Spikes is back with the Patriots after spending four years with the team before playing with Buffalo last year. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

FOXBORO – Brandon Spikes was a member of the Patriots for four years, but that doesn’t mean things ended well.

The Patriots didn’t re-sign the middle linebacker following the 2013 season and Spikes signed with the Bills where he then took to Twitter and posted: 4 years a slave. Spikes was put on season-ending injured reserve with a knee injury at the end of 2013, which reportedly was because he missed practice.

It became clear things didn’t end well between he and Bill Belichick.

Fast forward just over a year and with Spikes a free agent, Belichick and the Patriots scooped him up, with Spikes signing a one-year deal. Following Friday’s OTA practice, he spoke for the first time and wasn’t in the mood to discuss his departure.

“I don’t want to talk about that. You can clearly see me and The Hoodie kissed and made up. I’m here, that’s in the past. I’m moving on,” Spikes said, referring to Belichick.

Even with how things ended, Spikes said he’s looking forward to the season and playing for Belichick again.

“I just look at Bill as a genius,” Spikes said. “He can plug guys in and still be efficient and be productive, top of the league in all categories. That’s what makes him great. Just to have that opportunity to play under the greatest coaches ever is a dream come true and I want to definitely take advantage of it. Let him coach me up ins and outs, everything.

“I’m all ears and happy to be here. It’s that simple, I don’t know how else to put it. I’m honestly in awe to be standing here talking, seeing you guys again, familiar face over the years. It’s nice. Everybody welcomed be back — even the fans, the players, the people upstairs. It was all smiles and hugs. It’s cool.”

Spikes spent one year in Buffalo, playing in all 16 games and finishing with 54 tackles. He said nothing has really changed in the one year he missed.

“It’s the Patriot way, you know how that goes,” Spikes said. “It obviously works and I am just glad to be part of it and get another opportunity to prove I can play here and hold myself accountable to my teammates and coaches. I just want to prove them right.”

“I’m definitely fortunate for the opportunity Bill gave me and sometimes you need that separation and it kind of makes you more appreciative and thankful,” he added.

The Patriots did win the Super Bowl in the one year Spikes was gone, and his teammates have playfully joked with him about him not getting a ring, but Spikes isn’t letting that getting to him. He said he’s focused on just making the team.

“You know, it’s the same thing, they have that big ring and we moving on from that, but some of the guys are going to throw it in my face, but it is what it is, it’s all fun and games,” Spikes said. “But, I am letting them know I am here to work and make this ball club. It’s that simple. I am trying to get better each and every day and control what I can control.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

FOXBORO — It worked so well on the way to a Super Bowl title that Bill Belichick brought back a moniker from 2014 to deflect the media crush Friday at Patriots OTAs outside