It turns out the Patriots might not be without Jimmy Garoppolo when they take on the Texans on Thursday night. According to multiple reports, Garoppolo might not miss a single start as he deals with a reported sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder.
The key word: Might.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday the Patriots haven't "given up hope" on Garoppolo starting. He added, however, that it's "still a longshot." On Tuesday, ESPN's Ed Werder reported something similar, writing the Patriots believe there's a shot Garoppolo can play. It's a matter of pain tolerance.
For what it's worth, Garoppolo wasn't present for the portion of Tuesday's practice that is available for media members to watch, according to multiple Patriots beat reporters. And during a radio appearance with WEEI, Patriots coach Bill Belichick refused to give much away.
"Could be, sure," Belichick said, when asked if his quarterback might be a game-time decision. "It would depend on the situation. It would depend on a lot of things. It's possible. Sure."
Those two reports go against what was widely reported after Garoppolo went down midway through the Patriots' win over the Dolphins. It was initially reported that the injury could take as long as six weeks to heal, which would all but end his season given Tom Brady will return for the Patriots' fifth game.
Now, there's a chance Garoppolo could end up getting a chance to finish his job and lead the Patriots to an unbeaten record. Before Garoppolo went down, it appeared as if the Patriots would go 4-0 sans Brady. That became an unlikelier possibility once the idea of rookie Jacoby Brissett starting materialized in the wake of Garoppolo's injury.
Up to that point, Garoppolo had lit up both of his opponents, throwing for 264 yards and a touchdown in a stunning road win over the Cardinals, and then teeing off against the Dolphins by throwing three touchdowns on the first three drives of the game. The first touchdown involved some nifty footwork in the pocket to buy time for Danny Amendola to get open behind a linebacker.
Regardless of what ends up happening, the Patriots are sitting pretty.
Even if Garoppolo can't play in the Patriots' next two games and even if the Patriots go on to lose to the Texans and Bills, they'll have gone 2-2 without Brady under center. In other words, they'll have survived his (dumb) Deflategate suspension and be in a prime spot to win yet another AFC East title when Brady returns.