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Presser Points - Garoppolo: 'You don't want to be the backup'

New England's fill-in starter stepped to the forefront as preparations ramp up for Sunday night's opener in Arizona.

Though he's been doing press conferences all summer, Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo took to the podium in the media workroom at Gillette Stadium for his first regular season, game-week presser Wednesday morning as he begins a week of many firsts that will conclude with his first career NFL start.

The meeting with the media drew a large crowd of reporters, including some national media types, and plenty of questioners yelling over each other trying to get their question in.

Garoppolo, though, didn't seem to be overly stressed by the additional bodies and loud queries, stepping to the microphones with a casual, "What's going on everyone?"

Not surprisingly, the ensuing questions revolved quite a bit around Tom Brady, preparations for the Cardinals, the Brady banner at Gillette and how Garoppolo was dealing with his first real week as a starter.

Here are a few of the highlights from Garoppolo's press conference:

1. Brady banner in sight, out of mind: A number of reporters tried to get Garoppolo to talk about the two massive Brady banners erected on the iconic lighthouse at Gillette Stadium this week. But the polished third-year backup wasn't taking the presses bait.

How much does Garoppolo feel Brady's legacy looming over him?

"Not really. To be honest, I haven't had much time to even think about that," Garoppolo said. "It's straight Arizona right now. That's where my head is at and that's probably where it will stay."

Then, the final question of the morning presser was a simpler one looking simply for the young quarterback's thoughts on the banner dedicated to his Hall of Fame mentor.

"I honestly haven't even thought – I mean, I heard it was out there and everything, but I haven't even thought about it that much. To be honest, everything has been straight Arizona. I haven't had much time to call the parents or anything like that, so it's been a lot of Arizona and it's going to stay that way," Garoppolo said before exiting the room.

2. Ready for "phenomenal opportunity": Garoppolo has thrown 31 passes in his first two seasons in the NFL. He's a former second-round pick who took the program at Eastern Illinois to a new level, re-wrote the record books and was seen as a potential franchise quarterback when he entered the 2014 draft.

Now, the young passer is getting his shot to start, even if it comes in very strange circumstances. Regardless of how he's getting his chance, Garoppolo is planning to make the best of things.

"Mentally, I'm straight Arizona, but it is a phenomenal opportunity," Garoppolo said "This is why you play the game. You play to be in the game and play; you don't want to be the backup. The opportunity is here. I've just got to go take advantage of it."

3. Brady's final message:Many have wondered this week what Brady might have said to Garoppolo as he left the Patriots to serve his four-game suspension. What was his grand message to his young fill-in?

Apparently, the reality isn't anything near what people might imagine. Nothing like what might be said if the Patriots current reality were a greatly fictionalize movie.

"It wasn't anything crazy. It was just a goodbye and good luck, really," Garoppolo said. "He was just wishing me luck for the first four, and I think he wished it for the whole team. Tom, he's very supportive of us and we appreciate that."

The young quarterback did admit that after a summer working with all three quarterbacks in multiple roles – Brady was both the incumbent starter and the soon-to-be-suspended veteran, Garoppolo the backup and the soon-to-be-fill-in starter and rookie Jacoby Brissett the third-wheel and the September backup – that things are a bit more simplistic this week working to be ready for the formidable Cardinals.

"It's a smoother operation, I'll say that," Garoppolo said of this week's preparation. "It's just me and Jacoby, all the reps are just between the two of us now and we kind of know where we sit on that. It's different without Tom, no question about it, but it is what it is at this point."

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