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Tom Brady will sacrifice some reps for Jimmy Garoppolo in camp

It will be a challenge for Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Jacoby Brissett to all get the work they need in camp.JOHN TLUMACKI/GLOBE STAFF

FOXBOROUGH — A hot new trend is sweeping across the NFL this training camp: resting the starting quarterback.

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, 37, will have his snaps managed over the next five weeks after entering last season with a dead arm.

“We have to get on Carson about not throwing so much,” general manager Steve Keim said recently.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will be on a “pitch count” this camp, coach Ron Rivera said, as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. Giants quarterback Eli Manning, 36, will also be on a “pitch count,” the team said Thursday.

“He doesn’t have to take every snap,” GM Jerry Reese said.


The Patriots are jumping in on this trend, as well, though not because Tom Brady is coming off an injury or dealing with a dead arm. The Patriots have a luxury in the NFL — three quarterbacks they believe in and want to develop — but the downside is there are only so many reps in practice to go around.

So the Patriots will be doing an interesting dance over the next five weeks — finding a way to get Brady ready for the season, but also getting Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett the work they need and deserve.

“We need to get all of them ready, and that’s what we’ll try to do,” coach Bill Belichick said before Thursday’s practice. “It’s a short training camp relative to, not last year, but relative to other years in my career. So, honestly, there’s probably not enough reps for the quarterbacks.

“I think it will be a challenge to get all three of them as ready as we’d like them to be or they’d like to be, but we’ll do the best we can.”

Belichick wouldn’t say that the Patriots are managing Brady’s throws this camp or keeping him on a pitch count, but he made it clear this training camp won’t be all about Brady.


The Patriots went through this last year, too, but that situation was unique. They knew Brady would be suspended for the first four games, and getting Garoppolo ready to play was the priority.

This year, Garoppolo may not play a snap all season, but the Patriots still want to give him plenty of work. He may be the quarterback of the future, after all.

There’s a clear pecking order to the depth chart — Brady, then Garoppolo, then Brissett. But while Brissett, now in his second NFL seasons, is the scout team quarterback — the guy working almost exclusively with the rookies and youngsters fighting for practice squad spots — Brady and Garoppolo have developed almost into a 1 and 1A.

Brady and Garoppolo split the snaps almost evenly at Thursday’s practice, each taking turns with the starters and the backups. There was Garoppolo firing a touchdown pass to Chris Hogan in the corner of the end zone. There was Brady lobbing a perfect fade to Brandin Cooks for another score.

“There’s a priority order to it, but I mean, Garoppolo is one play away from being in a different situation,” Belichick said, referring to an injury without saying the word.

For three-plus years, Brady and Garoppolo have shared a locker room, a meeting room, and even the same agents. Not surprisingly, Garoppolo has seemingly morphed into Brady Jr. Their games are different — Brady has the stronger arm, Garoppolo the tighter spiral — but Garoppolo has picked up a lot of Brady’s mannerisms.


Close your eyes and listen to practice, and it’s hard to discern if it’s Brady or Garoppolo barking out the calls at the line of scrimmage. When practice ended Thursday, Brady and Garoppolo both raced to the corner of the field to work under the watchful eye of body guru Alex Guerrero.

Garoppolo came to Foxborough wide-eyed and awe-struck of Brady, but now he’s confident enough in himself and in his knowledge of the offense to try to match wits with a legend.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of deferring going on in that room,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. “And that’s a great thing. That means we have a lot of competition.”

It’s a little strange seeing Brady working some drills with backup offensive linemen, throwing to guys nearly half his age, and taking mental reps for a good portion of practice. But Garoppolo has earned the right to take snaps with the first team.

“As a player, you don’t always want to be working with one quarterback,” Rob Gronkowski said. “It’s great to work with Tom, work with Garoppolo, work with Jacoby. And you see a lot of resilience out of all three of them. It’s just a great room to work with, all of them.”

In the past, Brady has talked about how much he hates to give up even one practice rep to his backup. But he should welcome Garoppolo’s development and coming of age.


Brady is entering mostly uncharted waters as a 40-year-old quarterback. His diet and training regimen is such that we take for granted that he’ll be healthy and ready to tackle another 16-game season. He reiterated this week with Sports Illustrated that 40 is just a number for him, and that he plans on playing for several more years past next week’s big birthday.

“I think my mid-40s [is a] place that I know I can get to,” he said. “There’s no question in my mind I’ll be able to do it. I know what to do. I know how efficient I am. I know what it takes. And here’s the biggest thing: I’m willing to make the commitment. That’s important.”

Part of that commitment will entail deferring to Garoppolo a bit during camp, just to make sure Brady is “fresh as lettuce” for the regular season. Even Brady knows that Father Time is undefeated.

Video: Ben Volin and Jim McBride on Day 1 of Patriots training camp

Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin