Jimmy Garoppolo needs time to work at his game for New England Patriots

Jay Asser 14:18 18/08/2015
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Unfamiliar face: Garoppolo was drafted 62nd by New England in 2014.

The first week of the NFL preseason is in the books with each of the 32 teams getting at least one game of action – the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings have played twice due to the Hall of Fame Game.

Although the NFL has just returned and a majority of the pre-season slate remains, storylines have already begun to form.

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Filling in for Brady
While the Tom Brady ‘Deflategate’ saga has been the biggest story during the offseason, it will actually have an impact on the field when Week 1 rolls around for the Patriots.

Second-year man Jimmy Garoppolo will likely be under centre in place of Brady while the four-time Super Bowl winner serves his four-game suspension, and unlike most of the starting quarterbacks around the league, Garoppolo’s preseason is vital preparation.

In the Patriots’ opener against the Green Bay Packers, Garoppolo had a mediocre performance with 159 yards on 20-of-30 throws with an interception and 65.8 passer rating.

There’s plenty of time for the 23-year-old to get a handle on the reins of the offence, but steady improvement will be key.

Quarterback competitions
The two most open quarterback battles this pre-season are on the Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills.

Houston are deciding between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett and both players showed out well in their first opportunity.

There doesn’t seem to be any clarity on the competition yet, but it does seem apparent that Houston’s quarterback play will be improved from last year’s dismal campaign.

In Buffalo, the trio of Tyrod Taylor, Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel are all vying for the first team.

While Manuel is the least likely to win the job, there’s been little separation between Taylor and Cassel so far.

Cassel was a near-perfect 7-of-8 for 45 yards in the first game, but Taylor rushed for 47 yards in addition to his 49 yards through the air, proving to be a dynamic weapon. Coach Rex Ryan will have a tough decision on his hands.

Going for two
It felt as if more teams attempted two-point conversions through the first week, perhaps both in response to the new rule change and because of the casual nature of preseason.

The NFL moved back its extra point in the offseason from the 2-yard line to the 15-yard line, resulting in a slightly more difficult 33-yard kick compared to the previous ‘gimme’ of the 20-yard kick.

In the first week of preseason, teams opted for the two-point conversion from the 2-yard line on 13 occasions, converting six.

Taking into account the risk-averse mentality of many of the league’s coaches, it’s difficult to tell whether the trend will carry over when the games start to count.

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