The New England Patriots play their final preseason game of 2016 when they visit the New York Giants on Thursday night. The team’s top players could see little to no time on the field, meaning Tom Brady could be done playing until early October.
As he prepares to serve his four-game suspension for Deflategate, Brady has barely played this preseason. The veteran quarterback didn’t play in either of the first two exhibition contests, seeing his first action last week against the Carolina Panthers. After Brady completed three of nine passes for 76 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown pass to Chris Hogan, there’s little reason for him to play on Thursday.
Jimmy Garoppolo is still looking for more reps before he starts a regular-season game for the first time. He only threw for 57 yards in his 15 attempts last weekend, though the backup looked good in his first two preseason games. Garoppolo combined to complete 27 of 39 pass attempts for 349 yards and no interceptions against the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears.
Brady can’t play in the regular season until Week 5 when the Patriots visit the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 9. Jacob Brissett was the team’s best quarterback this past weekend, completing all nine passes for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Despite Brady’s absence for the start of the regular season, the Patriots are still considered the top Super Bowl contenders in the NFL. The Giants’ chances to make a playoff run in 2016 seemingly increased over the weekend with the news that Tony Romo would miss the beginning of the season with a back injury.
The Giants have had their share of struggles this preseason—losing by 17 points in the opener and getting shut out against the Buffalo Bills the following week. But New York displayed some positive signs in their Week 3 win against the Jets, and they hope to build on that in the preseason finale.
New York’s first-team offense might not see much action on Thursday, but Victor Cruz could get more playing time than most of the starters. He made his long-awaited return this past weekend, catching a pass in an NFL game for the first time in nearly 23 months.
“It was good to have him out there for a healthy amount of snaps,” Giants’ head coach Ben McAdoo said after the game. “We would’ve liked to get him the ball a little earlier in the game, let him get his hands on the ball. But he looked comfortable out there. He looked confident.”
The Giants open the regular season against the Cowboys and rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. New York spent more money on their defense in free agency than any other team, and the unit’s first-team has been impressive this preseason.