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What to watch for in Thursday’s Patriots-Giants preseason finale 08.28.14 at 7:30 am ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo

Here are seven things we’ll be looking for Thursday night when the Patriots meet the Giants in the preseason finale for both teams.

WHO DOESN’T PLAY

When it comes to the preseason finale, it’s just as important to figure out who doesn’t play as opposed to who does play. As we detailed here, if you’re a starter — or even a veteran — and you find yourself on the field for anything more than 10-15 snaps on Thursday night, it’s a bad sign. (The only area where this might be an exception is along the interior of the offensive line, for reasons we will address shortly.) Based on the work the Patriots were able to put in last week against the Panthers when they looked mostly razor sharp on both sides of the ball, don’t expect many of the starters to see the field against the Giants, despite the fact that we know New York is going to roll out its starters for between 15-18 snaps.

THE ROOKIES

A good chunk of this relates back to the first point — we know quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is going to start and get the bulk of the snaps. But given the fact that history tells us those who don’t play are likely to have a secure roster spot, we’ll be keeping an eye on a few first-year players and monitoring their playing time. Cornerback Malcolm Butler and running back James White have been among the rookies who have played well enough to land a roster spot over the course of the summer — if they end up sitting Thursday night, it’s a good bet they’ve made the roster.

JIMMY GAROPPOLO

Thursday will be the first professional start for Garoppolo, and he’€™ll get a chance to show what he can do against a No. 1 defense for the first time in the preseason. The New England coaching staff will be interested in seeing him in as many different situations as possible: two-minute, end-of-half, under pressure from a steady rush, as well as a potential four-minute offense situation. Everything is on the table when it comes to evaluating Garoppolo. From this viewpoint, Ryan Mallett still is the No. 2 quarterback on the roster, but the rookie will get his opportunity to show what he can do come Thursday evening in North Jersey.

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Read More: Brian Tyms, Bryan Stork, Dan Connolly, James White
Mike Petraglia, Chris Price on Jimmy Garoppolo starting, Ryan Mallett trade bait 08.25.14 at 2:55 pm ET
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FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price break down the decision to make Jimmy Garoppolo the starting quarterback this Thursday night against the New York Giants in the Patriots’ preseason finale, and what it means for the future of Ryan Mallett in New England.

Read More: 2014 training camp, Chris Price, Jimmy Garoppolo, Mike Petraglia
Jimmy Garoppolo on starting Thursday night: ‘I’m excited about it. … It’s going to be fun’ at 1:08 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Jimmy Garoppolo is pumped up about getting his first NFL start in the Patriots’ preseason finale Thursday night against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.

“I’m excited about it,” Garoppolo said in front of his locker Monday after being tabbed the starter by Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “It’s a good opportunity to get out there and get some quality reps. It’s going to be fun.

“I came in with mindset that I’m going to practice and study as if I was the starter. If you want to be a successful player in this league, you have to take the mental reps, the physical reps and take advantage of your opportunities.”

Garoppolo has thrown four touchdown passes in the first three preseason games, including at least one in each of the contests. He said Monday that he’s been able to get into a rhythm with his offensive teammates.

“Just get in a rhythm with the offense,” Garoppolo said. “I have a great group of guys around me who have really made my job a lot easier. So, just week in and week out, just improve and if you do that, it’s makes your job a lot easier.

“You always want to come in with a good attitude and thinking that you’re going to succeed in everything. Having that mindset really helped out a lot.”

Garoppolo said he still has a healthy perspective on his role with the team, as he is battling with Ryan Mallett to be Tom Brady‘s back-up.

“I’m still a rookie so I have a have a long way to go and a lot to learn still,” Garoppolo said. “That playbook is pretty thick so it’s just one of those things that if you keep learning, day in and day out, then you’re on the right track.

“That’s just part of being a rookie. Each day if you keep improving and learning the system that much more, things will just gradually slow down for you.”

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Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots, Ryan Mallett, Tom Brady
Tim Hasselbeck on D&C: ‘I think Wes [Welker] has had more than 10 concussions’ since 2007 at 10:18 am ET
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ESPN NFL analyst Tim Hasselbeck joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to discuss Wes Welker‘s history of concussions, Ryan Mallett‘s future in the NFL and more. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

While Hasselbeck stands by his view from earlier this month that the Broncos have a leg up on the Patriots in terms of talent, he acknowledged that he is concerned about Welker, who suffered his third diagnosed concussion in 10 months during Denver’s preseason game against the Texans on Saturday.

“I said before, I think Denver has a better roster, if you look at both sides of the ball and the experience they have,” Hasselbeck said. “I’ve heard some people kind of minimize this Welker situation. … It, in some ways, annoys me when people minimize what Wes is able to do. Wes had 73 catches in an offense that’s got a ton of guys that get the football. … Outside of these concussions, the guy has been so reliable, so I think it’s a significant blow.

“Whether or not it swings the balance between New England and Denver, I don’t know. But if he, in fact, is done, and let’s face it: three concussions in 10 months, that’s not a good situation.”

While Welker’s career has been highlighted by his tough play and willingness to go over the middle of the field despite the risk of taking big hits, Hasselbeck said that the wide receiver’s increasing number of head injuries certainly is a cause for concern.

“You don’t know anything about the injuries in New England, so he gets there in 2007 and for the most part, plays in all 16 games with a few missed here and there. You guys saw hits that he took, you saw him get up dazed at times,” Hasselbeck said, adding: “I’m going to tell you right now, if he’s had three [concussions] in 10 months, and I’ve seen the hits that he took in New England … the shots that he took were brutal. So count them up.

“To me, I think Wes has had more than 10 concussions, from 2007 to now. Now, there’s no way to prove it, he would never admit, New England would never say that that’s the case. … I would be concerned.”

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Read More: Patriots, Ryan Mallett, Tim Hasselbeck, Wes Welker
Tim Hasselbeck on D&C: Preseason games ‘absolutely brutal’ to watch due to penalties 08.18.14 at 11:53 am ET
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ESPN NFL analyst Tim Hasselbeck joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to discuss the huge number of penalties given out this preseason as well as Jimmy Garoppolo‘€™s potential in New England. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

NFL referees have come under fire for aggressively calling penalties in preseason games, something that revolves around the league cracking down on illegal contact, defensive holding and illegal hands to the face.

Hasselbeck said the number of penalties should decrease once the regular season kicks off.

“I watch all of these games, and you obviously can’€™t watch them all in real time, so I feel like I’ve had the benefit of fast-forwarding through the nonsense, because the games that I’ve watched in real time, it’€™s been brutal,” Hasselbeck said. “It’€™s been absolutely brutal. There’€™s no way this continues, because the league doesn’t want games like this during the regular season, and I can tell you right now, with all of this emphasis and all of this focus on this illegal contact and that nonsense, go look at every postseason for the last five years. The further and further you get along in the postseason, refs are afraid to take the flag out of their pocket. They won’€™t do it. … I feel like the officials in the NFL kind of missed the boat on this one.”

Hasselbeck said that Garoppolo’€™s impressive performances in the team’€™s first two preseason games, coupled with Ryan Mallett‘€™s upcoming free agency, has given Garoppolo the edge in terms of fighting for the backup quarterback role on the team.

“œI think, in terms of the ownership of the system, I think you need to be in it for a full year,” Hasselbeck said. “The advantage of being in something a full year is that you have command over it, rather than just knowing it. … There’€™s so many layers of it, so I think if you’€™re in it for over a year, to start to develop that type of ability. In terms of Belichick’€™s process with these guys, because of the contract situation for Mallett going forward and when he reaches free agency and because they’ve invested a second-round pick in Garoppolo, I believe that the scale is tipped a little bit in Garoppolo’€™s favor for them to really try to get him up to speed and feel comfortable with him being the backup, and so I think that’€™s why you’€™re going to see them give him opportunities.”

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Read More: Jimmy Garroppolo, Ryan Mallett, Tim Hasselbeck,
Why Ryan Mallett felt ‘a lot better’ about his night than preseason opener 08.16.14 at 11:24 pm ET
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Ryan Mallett scrambles for a touchdown Friday night against the Eagles. (Getty Images)

Ryan Mallett scrambles for a touchdown Friday night against the Eagles. (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — After a 5-for-12 effort against the Redskins in the preseason opener, creating more speculation about his future in New England, no one needed a pick-me-up on Friday night at Gillette Stadium than Ryan Mallett.

Sure, the speculation will continue, even after his 7-of-11 effort in a 42-35 win over the Eagles. Mallett passed for 92 yards while registering a team-high 120.3 quarterback rating. His touchdown pass to Brian Tyms in the back corner of the end zone was the kind of touch pass that raises scouts eyebrows.

So was his 23-yard pass over three defenders into the arms of Josh Boyce along the right sideline that led to a a Roy Finch touchdown run.

Mallett’s first drive of the game came with little advance warning, when Duron Harmon intercepted Mark Sanchez on the second play of the third quarter. Mallett opened with a short pass of six yards down the the Philadelphia 6. That was followed by an incompletion. Right off the bat, Mallett faced pressure. Third and 4 and a field goal would be a big disappointment. He dropped back in shotgun. No one broke open so he broke free of the pocket and scrambled for a touchdown.

All told, Mallett led the Patriots to 21 points in a third quarter that might – at least for now – change how Mallett is viewed.

“€œYeah we had the momentum all game,” Mallett said. “I feel like we played well throughout the game and it continued throughout the second half and we still got some little things to overcome, but it was a lot better.”

This was a different kind of week for Mallett. He was given two “maintenance” days off from practice. He was not the first quarterback off the bench after Tom Brady.

“€œI get to play in the game and that’€™s all that matters. That’€™s all,” Mallett said. “I just want to get out there and try to get better as a player and I felt like I did that tonight and I just got to keep building on it.”

Yet, Mallett played Friday like a quarterback that still had confidence, and Tyms making circus catches was a big part of that.

“€œYou build confidence in practice,” Mallett said. “We’€™ve been watching [No.] 84 do that all camp. He’€™s been making plays and he got one-on-one coverage, so I’€™m going to let him make a play and just try and get it close to him.”

Mallett did take two sacks in the second half and couldn’t put points on the board in the fourth quarter but overall, still a very good night against an Eagles defense that provided different looks.

“It’€™s a totally different defense; you know. They’ve got a good team,” Mallett said. “It was close there at the end and we got a stop and then we moved the ball and ran the clock out. The offensive line did a great job right there during that last series as far as moving the ball. There were big holes for the running backs to see and get through. It’€™s a credit to them.”

But the biggest credit goes to Mallett who put the rumors of his future on the back burner, at least for one night.

“I don’t worry about that stuff,” Mallett said to a reporter asking him if he’s trying to make a point to his doubters. “I leave that to all you.”

Read More: New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, Ryan Mallett,
Ryan Mallett expects to play Friday night against Eagles 08.14.14 at 1:26 pm ET
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FOXBORO –€“ After missing two practices early in the week and getting limited reps in practice due to the joint practices with the Eagles, quarterback Ryan Mallett is ready to go come from Friday night for the Patriots’€™ second preseason game of the season.

“Whenever they tell me to,”€ Mallett said, when asked if he expects to play.

With the Eagles in town this week, reps have been hard to come by in 11-on-11s because of the amount of players on the field at once. As a three-year backup, Mallett knows he has to take advantage of every play he is given.

“Any time you get a rep when you’re not the starter, you take advantage of it because you don’t get all the reps,” Mallett said. “That’s why I treat every practice like that, whether it be joint or if we’re just practicing against each other.”

In last Thursday’€™s game, the quarterback struggled at times, going 5-for-12 passing for 55 yards in one half of action. Mallett is itching to get back on the field and correct some of the things that may have went wrong.

“€œThere are some things we obviously have to do better — we didn’€™t play very well,”€ Mallett said. “There were some things we obviously have to do better –€“ we came out, practiced well and got better. That is what we’€™re trying to do everyday — get better and be ready for the Eagles tomorrow.”

There were a few occasions where Mallett and his receivers as well as running backs had some miscommunications leading to incomplete passes. On one play receiver Josh Boyce ran into a defender when Mallett thought he was going to do something else and on another, Mallett hit running back Roy Finch in the back of the head on a route Finch was running out of the backfield.

“That is part of the preseason — all those things are going to happen,” he said. “€œIt shows why you can’€™t let it happen when it gets to the regular season. We just have to learn from that and get better from it.”€

Asked if there were any particular throws he’€™d like to have back, Mallett joked, “All the incompletions.”€

“I’ve already moved passed it and ready for this week,” Mallett said. “Rear-view mirror kind of game right now.”

Read More: 2014 training camp, Ryan Mallett,
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