Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo split reps as top QB at practice

Patriots know it will take more than just Garoppolo to replace Brady (0:54)

Field Yates says it's going to take a collective effort from everyone on the Patriots to replace Tom Brady while he's suspended for the first four games of the season. (0:54)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One day after New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the team's priority was to get quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo ready to start while Tom Brady serves a four-game suspension to open the season, the plan for balancing the workload in practice came to life as training camp opened.

Brady, who Belichick said will be the starter upon his return, opened as the first quarterback in drills and remained in that spot through 7-on-7 passing drills. When the team portion of practice shifted to 11-on-11 drills, Garoppolo became the first quarterback to take repetitions. Finally, during no-huddle work near the end of practice that was run at about three-quarters speed, both quarterbacks worked at the same time. Garoppolo had most of the team's returning starting linemen with him along with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett.

"We don't really have 1s and 2s and 3s, we all rotate in and out -- first group, second group," Garoppolo said after practice. "It's really good because throughout the season, there are going to be injuries and things are going to happen, so you have to be able to play with whoever is in there with you."

Garoppolo added that it makes his job easier when he can throw to big-bodied targets such as Gronkowski and Bennett.

In all, Brady and Garoppolo totaled the same number of snaps in team drills that were run closest to full speed -- eight apiece in 7-on-7 work and six each in the 11-on-11 full-speed segment of practice.

Statistically, Garoppolo was 11-of-14 in those drills, while Brady was 8-of-14, but those numbers require additional context, in part because there is no live pass rush.

For example, Garoppolo fired a touchdown pass to receiver Nate Washington during 7-on-7 drills, but he had held the ball for an extended period of time and likely would have been sacked in game action. Also, Brady's numbers would have looked better had Gronkowski not dropped one pass in the end zone, and running back Donald Brown didn't have an accurate delivery stripped out of his hands by cornerback E.J. Biggers.

At three different times during practice, chants of "Brady! Brady! Brady!" erupted from the overflowing, announced crowd of 12,393. The first came seven minutes after the practice started at 9:15 a.m. ET.

As for Garoppolo, he said his mindset hasn't changed despite knowing he will start in the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 11.

"I've been preparing to be the starter since the first day I walked in here, every competitor has that mindset," he said. "I'm excited, man. I'm excited for Week 1. That's why we play the game. We play to get out there and get your opportunity, and when it comes, you've got to be ready for it."