The joint practices earlier in the week were to the coach’s satisfaction that the Patriots sat out 37 players in the preseason opener, a list that included quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski and cornerback Malcolm Butler, and virtually any player projected to be in the top half of the roster once the regular season rolls around.
That left quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to start and run the offense for more than a half of the action, to mixed results. The fourth-year backup shook off a shaky start – which came after two weeks of less-than-impressive practice action – to complete 22 of 28 passes for 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He had an effective two-minute drive to close out the first half with a touchdown and marched to another score on the opening drive after halftime.
“It’s not on purpose,” Garoppolo said of a growing reputation for far better performances on the game field than he’s able to put up consistently in practice. “I don’t know. I try to go out there and practice well every day with the guys. I mean, you’re trying different things in practice sometimes. You’re working with different guys. But, I don’t know. I don’t think there’s really a rhyme or reason to it. It’s football at the end of the day.”
While Garoppolo was doing his work on offense, New England’s second- and third-team defensive players struggled against the Jaguars. The units allowed three touchdowns of 42 yards or longer, including a…
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