New England Patriots Rumors: Prep For Tom Brady Suspension? Garoppolo Given Equal Practice Time

The New England Patriots may already be preparing for star quarterback Tom Brady to serve his four game suspension resulting from the “Deflategate” affair, with Brady and backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo actually dividing their practice time equally during Friday’s OTA session at the Patriots home of Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

OTA stands for “Organized Team Activity,” which is in effect a voluntary practice session permitted by the league outside of the official practice schedule which does not begin until a team opens its training camp.

While most practice sessions are dominated by Brady, who, of course receives nearly 100 percent of the available playing time in Patriots games, with Garoppolo taking far fewer practice throws and snaps.

But at Friday’s OTA, according to reports by media members allowed to attend the session, Brady and Garoppolo split the available practice time effectively 50-50.

While Brady has appealed his Deflategate suspension, no timetable has been set for his appeal hearing with league commissioner Roger Goodell. And assuming that Goodell does not throw out the four-game suspension, Brady and the NFL Players Association are expected to take their case to federal court.

As a result, whether or not Brady will be on the field on September 10 when New England opens the NFL season with a Thursday night game at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers remains an open question.

The Patriots appear to be taking no chances, assuming that Brady will be banned and making sure that Garoppolo — a highly touted quarterback prospect — is ready to start his first NFL game.

Each quarterback threw 11 passes in seven-on-seven drills, with Brady completing 10 and Garoppolo connecting on eight. In full 11-on-11 drills, Garoppolo got an extra rep, hitting eight of 12 attempts. Brady threw 11 times in those full-team drills, completing seven.

But asked whether the Patriots were indeed prepping Garoppolo to step in for a suspended Brady, New England Coach Bill Belichick took a pass of a different kind.

“We’re just going day by day right now. Everybody’s working hard, trying to get better. That’s what we’re all doing,” the four-time Super Bowl winning head coach said.

Garoppolo also sidestepped the question when it was put to him as well.

“I’m just going out to practice every day, trying to improve, trying to get my teammates better, me better, and we’ll go from there,” the 23-year-old former East Carolina Panther shrugged.

Reporters also pressed Belichick on how the penalties leveled against the Patriots in the Deflategate affair will affect the New England approach to the upcoming season, but the coach again shrugged off the question, saying, “That’s a long time ago. We’re on to next year. It’s 2015. You can forget about last year. That was last year.”

[Image: Jim Rogash/Getty Images]

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