Tom Brady is suspended, but his four-game hiatus only begins at the onset of the regular season. So, he's still practicing with the team and is eligible to play in the preseason. And that has the Patriots in a bit of a bind.
Use as many snaps as possible to get Jimmy Garoppolo ready for his four-game reign as the starter or give Brady equal time so he can avoid rusting over the course of his month-long break?
The Patriots appear to be going with the first option. According to NFL.com's Mike Garafolo, Brady won't play Thursday night.
Finally, we have some clarity. On the eve of the Patriots' first preseason game against the Saints, reporters asked Garoppolo if he knew who was starting Thursday night. He had no idea.
"I don't know," Garoppolo said, per CBS Boston. "Your guess is as good as mine."
Luckily, by now, given the way the Patriots always seem to run their operation, Garoppolo is more than used to the unpredictability.
"[It's been] pretty similar to the last two years, to be honest," he said. "It's obviously different than practice. Different situations will come up. You don't know how many snaps you're going to get or how many snaps you're not going to get. It's all coach's call so you've just got to go out there and perform."
I think what he meant to say is, DO YOUR JOB.
The good news for Garoppolo is that he figures to see meaningful minutes against the Saints' defense, which ranked as the second-worst unit against the pass last season. The bad news is that he might be without Julian Edelman, who suffered a reported non-serious injury to his left foot. Edelman participated at practice Wednesday, but given his recent injury woes, the team might want to proceed with caution. NFL.com's Chris Wesseling wrote Wednesday that "all indications from New England suggest Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and perhaps a few more key starters will not play this week."
Even though Brady will sit out Thursday, let's not forget that his first real game back will come against the Browns. That should serve as the perfect warmup.