BOSTON (CBS) — Training camp is still more than a month away, but there is one intriguing roster battle brewing for the New England Patriots.

And it’s all about a backup.

The Patriots used a second round pick in April’s NFL Draft to select quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who may very well take over for Tom Brady when the time comes. But what is in the cards for the 22-year-old in the near future?

Ryan Mallett is under contract for one more season, and has been Brady’s backup the last two years. He didn’t participate in last week’s OTAs though, making way for Garoppolo to take the majority of the snaps.

Could the rookie leapfrog Mallett on the depth chart and become Brady’s backup this season?’s Mike Reiss joined Steve Burton on WBZ-TV’s Sports Final on Sunday night, and said while Mallett will likely hold onto his job, Garoppolo should make it interesting this summer.

“I think it’s going to be Mallett, but they like (Garoppolo) a lot. Here is a story to watch from last Thursday: It was just Garoppolo on the field with no Mallett out there. I wouldn’t be surprised if this week, in the mandatory minicamp, if it’s just Brady and Garoppolo,” said Reiss.

Mallett’s absence was excused, so Reiss says there isn’t much to read into it this early in the season. He also said by having Mallett sit out, it gives Bill Belichick and his staff an extended look at what Garoppolo has to offer.

“It’s a great opportunity for him,” Reiss said of Garoppolo, who was impressive during OTAs. “The ball is out quick, he has a good rhythm and he’s good in the short passing game. It’s fun to watch.”

“We know Brady will be there at number one, but it will be fun to watch a pretty good competition for the number two,” he said. “I think Garoppolo can give Mallett a run for his money.”

Reiss was very impressed with Garoppolo’s willingness to put in extra work, something that reminded him of Brady’s work ethic.

“He was the last one off the field this last Thursday,” said Reiss. “He just wants to soak it all. He understands he’s not here to replace Tom Brady this year – he’s in it for the long haul.”

Tune in to Sports Final and Sports Final OT every Sunday night on WBZ-TV at 11:35 p.m.!



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