With Tom Brady not playing, the Patriots started Ryan Mallett in their preseason opener.
Brady was back on Friday night against the Eagles and played two series in the first quarter before heading to the bench. Mallett wasn’t the man replacing him, though.
Second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo got the call, playing with remnants of the first offense against the first stringers with the Eagles after an Ifeanyi Momah fumble on the Eagles’ first offensive play of the night. The rookie went 2-for-2 on the drive, including a 15-yard touchdown pass to fullback James Develin.
There are multiple possible reasons for why Garoppolo played ahead of Mallett, including the desire to see him against a starting defense and the fact that Mallett missed practice time this week with a knee injury. There’s also the possibility that the Patriots just think he’s a better player and want him to be Brady’s primary backup during the 2014 season.
Chances are that Bill Belichick, who drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty earlier in the first quarter, won’t be forthcoming with the information, but there’s a good chance it’s the last option if things stay the same next week.