FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – Jimmy Garoppolo missed his chance at an on-field audition when he was injured during Tom Brady’s four-game “Deflategate” suspension last season.
So this might be his best chance to show the Patriots — or another team that wants to trade for him — that he’s ready to be an NFL starter.
“Coach always has us guessing,” the heir apparent said Thursday night after completing a Brady-like 22 of 28 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-24 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“You never know if you’re going to play a little or a lot,” said Garoppolo, who played two quarters and then went out for two more series in the second half while coach Bill Belichick sat the reigning Super Bowl MVP out. “When he put me back in, I was happy to get back out there with the guys.”
Chad Henne hit Keelan Cole on a 97-yard touchdown pass, Corey Grant scored on a 79-yard run and the Jacksonville Jaguars feasted on a Patriots lineup without Brady and Rob Gronkowski — or much defense at all — to beat the defending NFL champions in their exhibition opener.
Garoppolo completed 13 straight passes at one point, finding Austin Carr on a 3-yard touchdown pass at the end of the first half and then K.J. Maye from 5 yards out to start the second and make it 17-17.
But the New England defense followed by giving up another one-play scoring drive — this one Grant’s run down the left sideline to make it 24-17.
“One of our basic plays. Coach called the play. The O-line did their job. And then it was up to me to make that one guy miss,” Grant said. “And then it was off to the races.” Packers 24, Eagles 9
In Green Bay, quarterback Carson Wentz went 4-for-4 for 56 yards and a score in his first series, eluding a potential sack and burning the Packers on third and fourth downs in Philadelphia’s loss.
Ravens 23, Redskins 3
In Baltimore, Ryan Mallett struggled in place of injured quarterback Joe Flacco, throwing for only 58 yards while playing the entire first half, and the Ravens beat Washington in a sloppy preseason opener.
Browns 20, Saints 14
In Cleveland, Myles Garrett showed flashes of dominance in his NFL exhibition debut, and Cleveland rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer threw a late touchdown pass and the Browns beat New Orleans while Saints stars Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson watched.
Dolphins 23, Falcons 20
In Miami Gardens, Florida, now the NFL’s highest-paid running back, Devonta Freeman looked the part in a brief appearance, scoring on a 15-yard reception from Matt Ryan as Atlanta downed Miami
Broncos 24, Bears 17
In Chicago, Mitch Trubisky threw for 166 yards and led three scoring drives after Mike Glennon struggled for the Bears, before Denver scored two long touchdowns in the closing minutes to beat the Bears.
Vikings 17, Bills 10
In Orchard Park, New York, taking over for starter Sam Bradford, Case Keenum went 11 of 16 for 121 yards. The sixth-year player engineered a pair of scoring drives — both set up by passes to rookie receiver Stacy Coley.
Panthers 27, Texans 17
In Charlotte, Deshaun Watson starred in his NFL preseason debut, completing 15 of 25 passes for 179 yards and running for a score, but couldn’t prevent Houston from losing to Carolina.