Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 12/13/14
Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t ready to take over for Tom Brady just yet, despite his quick release and impressive pickup of New England Patriots speak. Garoppolo is still fighting Ryan Mallett for the No. 2 role, and that battle could get close in training camp. Garoppolo will have to progress to beat out Mallett for a roster spot, however. Garoppolo said his aim is to be “consistently good, not occasionally great.” The rookie has showed occasionally great moments, but he has lacked his desired consistency. Garoppolo had to take a lap in Wednesday’s practice after bumbling a snap, and he went just 3-for-15 in 11-on-11 drills. He was much better on Tuesday, however, and he showed progress throughout organized team activities. Mallett didn’t have a chance to defend his backup spot on the roster during minicamp because of an undisclosed injury, but the fourth-year pro also has to show improvement to ensure his roster spot. Check out this week’s winners and losers from minicamp: WINNERS James White White had a noticeable drop in Wednesday’s minicamp practice, but the rookie running back, overall, showed better hands than Shane Vereen this spring. White also appears to be an experienced route runner, and he was known for his pass blocking at Wisconsin. Vereen is the better athlete, however. Hopes are high for Vereen next season, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility to see the Patriots give White an equal chance to earn the “starting” third-down back spot in training camp. The Vereen-White battle is reminiscent of when the Patriots appeared to be “phasing out” a contract-year Wes Welker in favor of Julian Edelman in 2012 before the latter suffered an injury. That’s not to say we saw any sort of phase-out for Vereen this spring, but given his contract scenario, it’s possible that the Patriots approach the position in a similar fashion. Kenbrell Thompkins Thompkins had a strong spring for the second straight year. Two catches from Wednesday’s practice — a deep end zone fade from Brady and an outside shoulder grab (both over Brandon Browner) — continue to stand out. Aaron Dobson probably would have entered training camp as a starter if he had been able to practice this spring. Since he didn’t, Dobson and Thompkins will enter the summer neck and neck for the “X” receiver role that KT earned in 2013. Tommy Kelly/Vince Wilfork The two big defensive tackles can be grouped together. Wilfork appears to be moving better at this stage in their recovery from injuries, but he also had surgery earlier than Kelly. It’s notable that both players were able to finish practice during minicamp without disappearing to the practice bubble with the rest of the rehab group. Of course, it’s also significant that these were non-contact, unpadded practices. Steve Beauharnais Beauharnais is an enigma, since he logged just one defensive snap all season in 2013. He made two great plays in coverage during minicamp, though, which gives some hope that he could be a contributor for the Patriots in 2014 if one of the starting linebackers goes down with an injury. Daxton Swanson Swanson wins the inaugural “Zach Sudfeld Award” given to the player generating the most hype based on non-contact practices. Swanson, who had two interceptions on Wednesday, has been a stud throughout the spring, but we’ll see how he fares in one-on-one drills in training camp before we get too enamored. LOSERS Ryan Mallett Mallett’s spring ended prematurely because of an injury, which allowed Garoppolo to see some much-needed reps. Mallett will need to get healthy and come into the summer with a sense of urgency. He has struggled to show improvement in his first three years in the league. Josh Boyce Boyce was looking solid during OTAs, then he banged up his knee during Wednesday’s minicamp practice and was nowhere to be found on Thursday. Another injury isn’t a good look for a player who struggled through foot and ankle injuries as a rookie in 2013. Bryan Stork Stork had to take a couple laps this spring for messing up snap counts. It’s still extremely early, but it appears he’s playing behind fellow rookie Jon Halapio and second-year pro Josh Kline.Filed under: Doug Kyed, New England Patriots, Top Stories
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