By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Jacoby Brissett may be eons away from legitimacy as an NFL quarterback - if he ever even gets to that point. But the reality of the situation with the Patriots is that for at least the first four games of the season, the rookie out of North Carolina State will be one unfortunate snap away from being thrust into the starting role for one of the league's top Super Bowl contenders, if not the favorite.
The further along the Patriots go in the preseason, the less likely it looks that the team might bring in a veteran to back up Jimmy Garoppolo. I personally never thought that would happen in a gazillion years, but it's becoming more apparent by the day that Brissett will begin the season as the second-in-command at the most important position on the field.
That kind of potential inevitably comes with added attention, but the good news is Brissett appears to be handling it about as well as you can and he keeps saying all the right things, no matter what the intrepid reporters at Patriots training camp may hurl his way.
Brissett is, after all, a rookie. What can he really tell you, anyway? But you still have to ask him stuff when he's available. When asked about the work he's putting in, the reps he's getting, and the idea of holding down his spot on the roster, he said what you generally like to hear from a rookie. He stayed in his lane like he should but didn't exactly act like a backup, either.
"You've just got to make the most of the mental reps and whenever you get a rep, you've got to make sure you make it count," said Brissett. "Just grinding like you're the starter. Just trying to stay ahead and trying to learn as much as possible."
Brissett is approaching every practice as if he's going to be the one under center when the games start to count. It's not an Earth-shattering remark by any means, but it's certainly better to hear than a rookie who isn't taking his job as seriously. Didn't exactly hear comments like that out of, say, Johnny Manziel when he was a rookie.
Despite being the obvious third-stringer once Week 5 rolls around, Brissett at least sounds as prepared as you can expect a rookie to be if (gulp) he has to take meaningful snaps in the regular season. There's no doubt that Brissett running even a single play in 2016 would be a bad sign no matter what, but if anything he sounds unafraid of the task, should it be presented to him (hopefully it won't).
"You just go out there and do your job and whatever happens just happens," said Brissett. "We've all got each other's back and just want the best for the team."
I know he fired off about 19 cliches there, but if you watch and listen to Brissett - hell, even watch him play - you can see he's a confident, professional guy. He's just a flawed, utterly inexperienced player, and one that will be dangerously close to being the guy for the Patriots if something were to happen to Garoppolo.
But at least Brissett projects the kind of confidence that could prevent all of New England from sounding the alarms, should he have to see any meaningful regular season snaps. Not that it would stop this media market from doing so, but based simply on how Brissett conducts himself in practice and off the field, the early-season QB situation in Foxboro could be even worse.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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