FOXBORO -- Less than 24 hours after Patriots coach Bill Belichick called it a priority to get Jimmy Garoppolo ready to start for the first quarter of the regular season, it looked like not much had changed at Patriots practice.
When the offense ran plays early in the practice -- whether against no defense or in 7-on-7 work -- it was Tom Brady who was the first quarterback taking the snaps.
Later in the session however, the focus seemed to shift Garoppolo's way, as he was the first quarterback to take snaps during the 11-on-11 and hurry-up periods. It was the first sign of Patriots training camp that things will be different on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium this summer as they prepare to go without Brady as he serves his four-game suspension to start the year.
From Garoppolo's perspective, though, his late-practice snaps didn't necessarily feel like a watershed moment.
"Nothing's really changed," he said. "When they put me in for the reps I'm in for, I'll go out there, do my best, and do whatever the coaches ask. Mindset's basically the same."
Since his rookie season, as a second-round pick out of Eastern Illinois, Garoppolo has insisted that his mindset has been to prepare as the starting quarterback -- even though that was an unlikelyhood.
Now that he has his chance, he wants to make the most of it.
"It's a great opportunity . . . Gotta go out there, take advantage of it," he said. "You don't get many opportunities in this league, and you might only get one, so you gotta make the best of it."
Garoppolo had a solid first day of on-the-field work, going 4-for-6 in competitive 11-on-11 work. He also went 6-for-8 in 7-on-7 red zone snaps, and he was 3-for-5 (with one rep where he couldn't find an open receiver and held onto the ball) during one period where the team split the field in half to go 4-on-3.
In terms of the sheer number of snaps, Brady and Garoppolo shared the workload, getting 20 each, with Brissett getting fewer attempts in team work. But the timing of those snaps is what many in attendance paid attention to.
When Garoppolo got to work with the first group in the 11-on-11 period, he worked behind what appeared to be the first-team offensive line: left tackle Nate Solder, left guard Joe Thuney, center Bryan Stork, right guard Jonathan Cooper and right tackle Marcus Cannon.
The crowd Garoppolo was throwing to was a mix of what might be considered starters and reserves -- which the Patriots often do so that quarterbacks have some chemistry built up with all the team's weapons. His attempts went to LeGarrette Blount, DeAndre Carter, James White, Martellus Bennett, Aaron Dobson and Chris Hogan.
Garoppolo's quick release was on display throughout, and he didn't appear to make any obvious mistakes. In fact, no Patriots quarterbacks were intercepted on the day.
Brady, meanwhile, looked like his typically-sharp self. He was 3-for-6 in 11-on-11 work, 5-for-8 in 7-on-7 work in the red zone, and 4-for-6 in the half-field work.
It was an atypical finish to Thursday's practice, however, as someone other than Brady took the first snaps during a competitive period.