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Thumbs up for Patriots QBs Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo

Tom Brady has looked good in practices but limited in preseason games with his top receivers out. Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports

A quick observation of New England Patriots quarterbacks Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo and how they've played in preparation for the season opener on Sept. 10 against Pittsburgh Steelers:

This assignment was supposed to be focused on the starting quarterback, but given the dynamics in play with Brady's four-game suspension and the media spotlight shining bright on Garoppolo, both have to be part of the mix.

Through three preseason games, Brady played 43 snaps and Garoppolo 158. That's about the standard split between first-and second-string quarterbacks in a traditional Patriots preseason.

In practices, Brady has taken almost all of the first-team repetitions, followed by Garoppolo. There have been two practices, not including Monday's, in which Garoppolo took over for Brady when Brady was in court.

As for the preseason performances, Brady didn't get much help and worked without top receivers Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell, as well as top tight end Rob Gronkowski throughout. He also played behind an interior offensive line with three rookies -- left guard Shaq Mason, center David Andrews and right guard Tre' Jackson. So when looking at the bottom-line results, and how Brady led just one touchdown drive over 12 total drives, many would simply assume it's a "thumbs down."

But there's a lot more to the analysis and Brady looked terrific in joint practices with the Saints on Aug. 19-20. From an accuracy and decision-making standpoint, he has mostly been on the mark.

As for Garoppolo, he has made obvious strides in his second year. His best performance was Sept. 22 against the Saints (28 of 33, 269 yards, TD), 1 INT. There are times when he makes a throw that reflects his youth, but his general command of the huddle and offense has been notable.