Garoppolo, Grugier-Hill gear up for season with Patriots

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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When the New England Patriots regular season gets underway, former Eastern quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will head the offense after Tom Brady was suspended for the first four games of the season.

While Garoppolo mans the starting job at quarterback, former Eastern linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill may crack New England’s roster. Both players have seen playing time in the first two preseason games.

Grugier-Hill may not have a starting position locked up, but he has made his presence known through the first two games of the preseason recording six total tackles.

The former Eastern linebacker also may see time on special teams throughout the season.

The Patriots have won both preseason games including a 34-22 win over the New Orleans Saints Aug. 11. In the game, Grugier-Hill was responsible for dropping back into coverage, like he had done while at Eastern.

Grugier-Hill was also responsible for calling the huddles on defense and relaying the plays, according to Boston.com.

“I like that role,” Grugier-Hill said in the article. “We’ve obviously got to hit the film and practice tomorrow and get better. The only thing we can do is work on communication and try and execute plays better. We’ve got a lot to work on. I love where I’m at right now. I love my position I’m in. I love where I am in the defense.”

In his final season at Eastern in 2015, Grugier-Hill racked up 70 tackles in 10 games played, including 45 unassisted. He also recorded 6.5 sacks for a total of 42 yards.

Jimmy Garoppolo was supposed to be the Patriots’ starter last season for the first-four games, but Brady’s suspension was lifted. But the suspension was brought back on Brady, giving Garoppolo the reins of the offense for the first-four games.

Garoppolo, who was apart of the Patriots’ Super Bowl team in 2014, has seen a majority of the action in the first two games, and has helped New England to back-to-back wins.

In his latest game, Garoppolo went 16-21 with one touchdown and 181 passing yards in his one half of playing time against the Chicago Bears.

Chicago got out to an 11-0 lead after the first quarter, but Garoppolo marched the Patriots down the field in the second quarter and put up 17 points.

The Patriots trailed 11-9 with 17 seconds left in the half when Garoppolo threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to AJ Derby, and then converted on the two-point conversion on a pass to Chris Hogan.

“It was still not our best start,” Garoppolo said in a press conference following the win over the Bears. “We started with another three-and-out, which is never good. But after that I think we got into a nice rhythm offensively.”

Garoppolo and Grugier-Hill and the Patriots have two more preseason games left before the regular season starts. They’ll take on the Carolina Panthers and the New York Giants.

New England opens the regular season on the road in Arizona to take on the Cardinals before playing three-straight games at home against the Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, and Buffalo Bills.

For Garoppolo, those are the games he’s predicted to start before Brady returns, and for Grugier-Hill, the future may be bright.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]