Unless Tom Brady's previously rescinded, currently reinstated four-game suspension is overturned again, the Patriots will open the regular season against a Super Bowl contender in Arizona sans arguably the greatest quarterback in the history of the game -- all because of some deflated footballs used in a 45-7 game a year and a half ago.

Once again, Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo entered minicamp preparing as if he'll play during the first four weeks of the season. This time, after spending his second full season sitting behind Brady, he might be ready for the task ahead -- at least according to tight end Rob Gronkowski, who spoke about Garoppolo's development after Monday's practice.

"He's doing great, definitely," Gronkowski said, per MassLive. "You can see a huge development over the last two years in the way he handles the offense now. He's doing a great job going out there, listening to coaches and just working together with the whole team."

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Jimmy Garoppolo will be forced into action due to Tom Brady's Deflategate suspension. USATSI

Gronk's assessment is a good sign for the Patriots, but let's remember that this is still the offseason, when every team believes its a break or two away from a Super Bowl season. The difference here, though, is that we're talking about the Patriots, who certainly have a history of thriving with backup quarterbacks (see: Brady and Matt Cassel). And they boast the kind of supporting staff that figures to make Garoppolo's life easier -- I'm still not sure how any defense will stop the Patriots' new tight end duo.

Plus, the Patriots' stretch without Brady will get easier after the Week 1 clash with the Cardinals. From there, they'll head home and stay there for the remainder of Brady's suspension, hosting the Dolphins, Texans and Bills. Divisional games shouldn't be overlooked and the Texans were a playoff team a season ago, but the Dolphins haven't won in Foxborough since 2008. The Texans still don't have a quarterback (even if they think Brock Osweiler is worth $37 million guaranteed), and the Bills are still the Bills -- a team coached by someone who can't seem to beat Bill Belichick.

According to SportsLine, the Patriots will still enter all three of those games with a better than 70 percent chance of walking away with a win.

As I wrote when Brady's suspension was reinstated in April, "there's a potential benefit" if the suspension is upheld:

One, the Patriots might view Garoppolo as Brady's successor, which could be unlikely, though, due to the fact that Brady signed a new two-year extension (until 2019) and Garoppolo's contract expires after the 2017 season. And two, the Patriots could always turn Garoppolo into trade bait.

In other words, we'll find out if Gronk's comments were just offseason filler or a truthful assessment of his teammate.