Brady scoffs at talk of only 4 more years

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
Much has been made about how long Tom Brady has left as quarterback of the Patriots, and it was a topic two old friends joked about Friday on the set of SportsCenter at Patriots training camp.

Longtime Patriot and current ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi said he thought Brady, who turns 37 on Sunday and is signed through 2017 (when he will be 40), could play until he was 41.

Here’s the fun back and forth that played out on the air:

Bruschi: “I’m giving him four [more seasons].”

Brady: “Four?”

Bruschi: “Four is realistic.”

Brady: “You’re out of your mind.”

Bruschi: “Oh yeah?”

But when the conversation got slightly more serious, Brady would not make a prediction as to how many more years he’d play. He is headed into his 15th season in the NFL.

“The most important one is this year, because that’s all we have,” Brady said.

He was asked by host Hannah Storm how he maintains his level of intensity and commitment after all of these years in the league.

“A lot of luck,” he said. “And a lot of great education from some really important people in my life that have taught me how to take care of myself, how to prepare myself mentally and physically for what we’re up against. It’s probably not what a lot of people do. It’s probably not the norm for most players. But it’s what’s worked for me.

“I made a commitment to myself because I love the game, I want to play for a long time. There’s nothing else I’d rather do. I make a commitment in the season and the offseason to do that. It’s a fun thing for me. It’s not like working out is a very a hard thing, coming out and playing football in the middle of May is a hard thing. I love doing it.

“Hopefully I do it for a long time. Hopefully for longer than the four years over here that my buddy wants me to play.”

A few more highlights from Brady’s SportsCenter interview, a clip of which can be seen above.

Good to see Rob Gronkowski back on the field even if he’s not fully participating just yet. “Last year he didn’t really even have [partial participation]. Just for him to be out here, making plays in individual drills and routs on air when you can see the kind of dynamic player that he is and that he has always been for this team, that’s a big boost for our offense. It’s exciting to see him out there.

“It’s exciting to see guys like Julian and Danny out making playing plays. [Kenbrell Thompkins] has made a lot of plays over the last couple days. That’s what it takes to be a good offense, you’re not open by 20 yards on every play. You’ve got to make tough catches in tight areas.”

Progress of rookie receivers from last year to this year. “As an offense at this time last year we really didn’t know where we were at. I think it’s a real benefit to our offense knowing what guys are capable of, knowing the skill set they have to compete at an NFL level.

“That’s the difference between a rookie year and a second year. Guys have done it, proved it, and now you have confidence going into the next season that we’re actually good at some things. And those are the things you want to build on. “

Darrelle Revis: Best shape of my career

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Through two training camp practices with the New England Patriots, veteran cornerback Darrelle Revis admits he is still adapting to his new surroundings. At the same time, he has never felt better.

“It’s been awesome, but it’s been kind of weird in a way,” he said Friday. “But I’m a Patriot now and that’s how things go -- you have to roll with it, [fans] accepted me, and I’m happy to be here and play ball.”

The Patriots had 7,822 fans at their opening practice Thursday and appeared to top that number rather comfortably Friday, when Revis was among the players signing autographs after the two-hour workout.

Why so weird for him?

[+] EnlargeDarrelle Revis
AP Photo/Stephan SavoiaDarrelle Revis on playing for New England after starting his career with the rival Jets: "Right now I'm a Patriot and I'm excited to be here."
“We all know that,” he said with a laugh. “I was on the other side, with another team, a rival, [but] I’m here now and I’m just so excited. I’ve been in the best shape in my career.”

Revis said he “worked his butt off” to get his weight down this offseason (he is listed at 198 pounds), which included spending about a month in Arizona before training camp, where he was joined for a few weeks by new teammates Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan and Tavon Wilson.

While the training has helped him from a team chemistry perspective, and he is two years removed from his time with the New York Jets (2007-2012), Revis still can’t fully escape the New York spotlight. On Thursday, the New York Post and New York Daily News had reporters at Patriots camp, with the Daily News sticking around a second day and speaking with him one-on-one after practice.

“That’s rivalries,” Revis said when asked about bitterness between the Patriots and Jets. “There are college rivalries, high school rivalries, and there are rivalries in the pros as well. I was on that side, and you’re not supposed to like your rival no matter where you play. Like I said, I’m here now, all that’s in the past, and all I can focus on is what I can do now. Right now I’m a Patriot and I’m excited to be here. It’s great. I’m excited about camp, the whole team is, and we’re looking forward [to the season].”

Part of Revis’ excitement is also tied to his health. He admitted that last season coming off a torn ACL was a struggle for him.

“I finished all 16 games last year but I still wasn’t where I wanted to be physically as a player,” he said. “This is my first offseason where I could really focus on working out. They say it takes a year and a half, or two [to get back to full strength]. I think I’m at a point now, I’m there.

“I’m back to where I can move around a little better. Last year was really tough coming off the injury, I wasn’t where I needed to be. Now I’m a little bit more excited, I feel the butterflies a little bit more, and I’m just ready to play and get ready for the season.”

As for where he falls in the debate on the NFL’s best cornerback, Revis expressed indifference.

“I don’t need to prove nothing to anybody. Ws is what matters -- more wins than losses. That’s what we want to do as a team,” he said. "Everybody is great. Everybody performs well at the professional level. Those are for you guys to rate who’s this and that. It really doesn’t matter to me.”

Belichick: Revis has instincts of Harrison

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick appeared on the "SportsCenter" set this morning in Foxborough, Massachusetts, and spoke with anchor Hannah Storm and analyst Tedy Bruschi about a number of topics.

Does he have to hold Rob Gronkowski back and trust trainers? "We have to follow the rehab instructions and do what's right by every player. Rob's got a lot of energy, loves football. And he really works hard. He works hard on and off the field. He trains hard. He studies, he spends extra time. He's a hard-working kid."

Why it's important for Darrelle Revis to get down the base zone and base man concepts before getting into game-planning specifics. "At this point, we're just kind of in the generic, everybody learn how to do your job within the context of the defense, working with different people, different combinations at safety, cornerback, defensive line, whatever it happens to be, just get everybody working together.

"But it won't be too long before we need to start to get into whatever game-planning we're going to do with our players. How we're going to match them up, where we're going to put them, if that affects another part of the defensive call. It won't be too long before we get into that.

What Revis brings to the table. "Excellent coverage skills. Really has great anticipation and feel. He's a very smart football player. As good as his physical skills are, I just think instinctively that he has a great anticipation of the passing game. Routs and quarterbacks and combinations, those kind of things. A lot of times he kind of runs routs before the receivers run them. He has that kind of anticipation. He's a very sharp football player, a very instinctive player. Probably in the secondary along the lines of Rodney Harrison, he'd probably be a player who instinctively I would compare him to."

Kraft on another title: 'We want it real bad'

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
video New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft appeared on the ESPN "SportsCenter" set this morning in Foxborough, Massachusetts, and spoke with anchor Hannah Storm and analyst Tedy Bruschi about a number of topics.

On the start of training camp. "You feel reborn. ... It's great to see football back."

On the team's upgraded football facilities. "We've invested over $25 million to try to get our facilities top-notch. In this business, if you aren't always pushing -- whether it's in the area of developing software or getting the right free agents or doing all the little things that can help, hopefully, put you in a good position to try to win. It's so hard, as you know.

"I probably speak for every owner in the league that this time of year we're all excited. We think the sky's the limit. We've made our offseason moves. We've had our draft. It's 0-0 wins and losses. So optimistic."

It's going on 10 years now since the Patriots last won a Super Bowl. Does he get impatient? "Absolutely. Especially as the years start creeping up and you realize how delicate everything is. Look at last year: We thought we had a great team and then Vince [Wilfork] goes down in Week 4 and Tommy Kelly in Week 5 and Jerod Mayo in Week 6. So that solid defense … that's the beauty of this game, no one knows what's going to happen.

"We want it real bad. In the end, like everything in life, it is about execution. You have to make it happen, and you also need good fortune not to have injuries and then have the ball bounce right."

On the importance of the NFL putting a team (or teams) in Los Angeles. "I think we've gone almost a generation, almost 20 years I think, without a team in L.A. … It isn't good for the NFL. We have a generation of young people growing up not really branded or tied to a team. I think that kind of passion only comes when you have a team you can root for. I think it's very important. I'd like to see us get two teams in L.A., personally ... then we have the AFC and the NFC."

Kraft talks more about Los Angeles in the video above, saying he would love to see a team come to the city within the next two to three years.

Christopher Harris and Field Yates go head-to-head on whether we've already seen the best from Rob Gronkowski.

High praise for Jerod Mayo from Belichick

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is in his 40th NFL season, so when he says a player rates as highly as anyone that he has coached, it carries significant meaning.

Seventh-year linebacker Jerod Mayo should be flattered.

“I think he’s as well respected as any player in the locker room and I’d say one of the best overall team leaders, players and kind of a glue chemistry guy that I’ve been around,” Belichick said of Mayo on Friday morning before the team’s second training camp practice.

“I think he means a lot to our team. I’d say he’s really the guy that the team probably revolves around more than any other player. Not that there aren’t other players that are instrumental in that, but I think he touches pretty much everybody, not just the defensive players but all the guys -- not just the older guys, but the younger guys. Even when he was captain in his second year, he had a relationship with the older guys. Now he’s more of a veteran player, but still pretty attached to the younger guys, like Jamie Collins and [Dont'a] Hightower and guys like that.

“He has a great work ethic, a great presence on the football field, and a great personality that in a very good way is professional but also has a good rapport with all the players and coaches.”

Belichick’s remarks underscore how deeply the Patriots were affected by Mayo’s season-ending torn pectoral injury on Oct. 13.

Asked if Mayo was similar to past Patriots linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel, Belichick said: “I’d say more Bruschi, but different. Similar, but different. Tedy had a little bit of a different personality, but a lot of the same characteristics. When you’re playing a position in the middle of the defense, it’s like playing quarterback in the middle of the offense, you have to be the main communicator and the person that everyone runs through. That’s inherent in the position, so some of that comes with the position.”

A few other sound bites and notes from Belichick:

Thompkins' work ethic stands out: Asked about second-year receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, Belichick began by citing his work ethic. "One of our hardest workers," Belichick relayed. "He really tries hard to do everything right. He’s very attentive. He’s very coachable." Thompkins had a solid first day of practice Thursday, drawing praise from quarterback Tom Brady for one diving catch.

Not a big fan of point of emphasis: With media-based chatter that the NFL is planning to stress a point of emphasis on illegal contact and defensive holding, Belichick was asked how he teaches his players with this in mind. The topic of a “point of emphasis” struck a chord with Belichick. "The league does this every year -- it doesn’t change a rule it just says 'we’re going to emphasize it differently,' well I don’t really know what that means because we’ve tried to play by the rules from the beginning. So I think you definitely have to get to the preseason or in some cases the regular season to see how that’s going to be. ... The ones that are cut and dried, we'll accept them for what they are. The ones that would change the shade of gray from light to dark, or dark to light, I think there's a little of seeing what that is. That being said, that's kind of the way it is the National Football League anyway." On a related note, officials are scheduled to be in Patriots training camp the week in which the Eagles are here prior to the second preseason game.

Full pads tomorrow: Belichick said the team’s first practice in full pads will be Saturday, as expected.

Patriots coverage from national view

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When the New England Patriots opened training camp on Thursday, reporters from, the Toronto Sun, New York Daily News and New York Post were on hand to cover the team from more of a national perspective.

Reviewing their work:

Defense the key for Patriots. Judy Battista of captures the scene of the first day and focuses on the defense through the lens of the Belichick-Brady era. "If there is to be another Super Bowl title to bookend Brady's career, it will probably not be won via any great offensive leap. Rather, it will be captured because the defense proves able to provide some ballast for a team that, in recent years, had grown too lopsided."

Hard to miss Brady's presence. John Kryk of the Toronto Sun takes us back in time to the last time Brady wasn't at Patriots training camp, and how Brady said Thursday that he never takes anything for granted. On the field Thursday, it was the same old Brady. "It was our first chance to watch Brady operate at any practice, and he clearly is a man in charge -- barking orders or shouting encouragement to his receivers as they ran drill after drill to refine their passing-game precision."

Brady and playing to a high level into his 40s. Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post focuses on Brady and how the Patriots drafted his potential successor, Jimmy Garoppolo, in the late second round (62nd overall). "His arm and football savvy are still strong and Brady doesn’t rely on his feet, so it’s not outrageous to think he could play at a high level into his 40s if New England’s offensive line can keep him upright. Then again, Belichick is famous for his willingness to get rid of any player if he thinks he sees a slip in play coming. Brady no longer a Patriot? It still sounds unthinkable, and the man himself wants to keep it that way."

Revis' presence a nightmare for Jets fans. Gary Myers of the New York Daily News writes on cornerback Darrelle Revis and how his presence in New England could be a bitter pill for Jets' followers to swallow if it leads to a Super Bowl title. "There was Brady taking the snap near the end of practice Thursday in an 11-on-11 drill and looking to his right and seeing Revis in tight coverage on Julian Edelman and then throwing the other way, much like he did in the six years Revis played for the Jets," Myers writes. "It’s fun to watch the chess match, even if it’s only practice and Brady didn’t go Revis’ way during team drills."

Wake-up call: Patriots camp Day 2

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
Every day of the New England Patriots training camp, we'll have a wake-up call that previews the day ahead.

8:45 a.m. ET -- Bill Belichick's news conference
9:15 a.m. ET -- Practice (open to the public)
approx. 11:30 p.m. ET -- Player interviews

The forecast calls for sunshine and temperatures eventually reaching into the 80s.

ESPN will have a set from which it broadcasts live, with Hannah Storm and Tedy Bruschi, so expect multiple live updates throughout the day on various ESPN platforms.

Among the storylines we'll be following in a practice that will be held in light shoulder pads:

1. Cornerback Darrelle Revis and his potential impact on the defense.
2. Tight end Rob Gronkowski and his workload on a second consecutive day of practice.
3. Second-year receiver Kenbrell Thompkins continuing to seize the opportunity with Aaron Dobson sidelined.

Patriots camp report: Day 1

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A daily review of hot topics coming out of training camp:
  • The team's first practice provided a snapshot of how the team plans to manage tight end Rob Gronkowski as he works his way back from surgery on his torn right ACL on Jan. 9. Gronkowski participated in individual drills, but not in any of the 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drills. Gronkowski had a brace over the knee, and is still wearing a protective cover over his previously injured left forearm. He didn't seem reluctant running, cutting and planting, and at the end of practice spent some extra time on the field catching passes from quarterback Tom Brady. At the same time, it's clear that this is going to be a gradual process in bringing Gronkowski along.
  • Receiver Aaron Dobson, the 2013 second-round draft choice who the Patriots hope can provide a downfield thread and size (6-foot-3) on the perimeter, has opened camp on the active/physically unable to perform list after undergoing surgery March 10 for a stress fracture in his left foot. Dobson spent the practice working with strength coaches Harold Nash and Moses Cabrera, at one point doing some pretty aggressive running. This is supposed to be a big year for Dobson after a full year in the system, yet in his absence, second-year receiver Kenbrell Thompkins stepped in and made a few notable catches. One of them -- a diving grab in the back right-hand corner of the end zone, had quarterback Tom Brady heaping praise on him after the practice.
  • While Dobson is among a small handful of players not yet cleared for practice, it is significant that defensive tackle and captain Vince Wilfork was a full participant as he is coming off a ruptured Achilles on Sept. 29, 2013. Wilfork looks like he might have shed some weight.
  • Quarterback Tom Brady, Mayo and Wilfork drew huge media crowds on a day that, the New York Daily News, the New York Post and the Toronto Sun were on hand to cover the team from more of a national perspective. One of the more notable comments came from running backs coach Ivan Fears, who touched on how rookie James White (fourth round, 130th overall) has made a strong first impression. "I like his running style," Fears said, via the Boston Herald. "He runs like a big guy for a little guy (5-10, 205). He plays big. He works hard. Right now, he's doing everything right. It's hard not to be in love with him."
  • By the time players and coaches arrived on the field for the 9:45 a.m. ET practice, the bleachers surrounding the two practice fields were filled. The team announced an official attendance of 7,822. This was an increase from last year, when 6,390 fans showed up in a heavy rainstorm. The Patriots' single-session record for a training camp practice is 12,163, set in 2012.

Wilfork practices without restriction

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Veteran New England Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork knows he has a few more hurdles to clear before he's all the way back from a ruptured Achilles sustained last Sept. 29, but Thursday's first training camp practice marked another step in the right direction.

Wilfork, who appears to have shed weight, was a full participant for the complete non-pads practice.

"If I had limitations, I wouldn't be practicing. Right now, I'm on the field and I'm healthy," Wilfork said after the two-hour session. "I'm pretty sure there's going to still be some stuff that I may need to do, so 'so far, so good.' I'm not looking back. I'm looking forward."

It's a credit to Wilfork that he's made it to this point. As he pointed out in June, the stats aren't favorable for 325-pound defensive tackles coming off such a serious injury, but the rock in the middle of the Patriots' defense never doubted himself. The next step will be absorbing contact for the first time, as the team's first full-pads practice is scheduled for Saturday.

A few other soundbites from Wilfork:

On if the injury gives him a greater appreciation for the game: "I always appreciate the game, but being out last year, it just made me dwell on the things a little bit more and appreciate them a lot, lot more. You think about things a little differently now going through what I've been through -- my first time being injured. It's one of those things, I had a [bump] in the road and what am I going to do about it? With the teammates I have, with my coaches, with my family -- that's a big supporter of mine, my family -- just having somebody that you can talk to every day, come and work out every day and have guys surrounding you and just being able to comfort you when times get tough. Just having someone to talk to, I think this team does a real good job of that. Everybody just sending you a text or a phone call or just coming to your house to see how you're doing -- it went a long ways for me, and I really appreciate it from everybody."

On what he needs to prove: "I just have to prove I can come out and give my team what they need. Me as a person, I've never been a selfish player; I was a team player. If I wanted to be selfish, I could have been a shot putter. I've done that. I was a state champion shot putter, but it wasn't my thing. My thing was to be with teammates, a good group of guys, and we're all working toward one goal and that's to be able to win and push one another. That's why I chose football. For me to prove anything, no; I have to prove to my teammates they can trust me when the [game] is on the line. They have to do the same thing with me. It starts now. Camp is, that's the platform for everything. If you can [become] a better football team in camp, you'll be pretty decent."

On players competing hard in practice: "I think that's one of the biggest things that's going to help us as a team is when we come out and you see Tom Brady competing and getting pissed off that he threw an incomplete pass and you see Jerod Mayo or Darrelle Revis mad because somebody caught a pass; that's competition. The young guys look at that and say, 'You know what? For me to be successful in this league, I have to practice like that.' We have a bunch of guys that lead by example because they don't say much, they just go out and do it."

Gronk can give Pats top offense

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick recently declared that star tight end Rob Gronkowski had been medically cleared following January surgery to repair a torn ACL. It was music to the ears of Patriots fans (and probably quarterback Tom Brady, too), and a nightmarish reality for defensive coordinators on the Patriots' 2014 schedule.

Belichick didn't state that Gronk would play in Week 1, but all signs point in that direction. And while the burly tight end has been limited by injuries in recent seasons, at least right now it appears he will be virtually 100 percent healthy by the season's outset.

Of all the developments for the Patriots this offseason -- including signing cornerback Darrelle Revis, extending nose tackle Vince Wilfork's deal and the return of several other key starters from injury -- the Gronk news is the most critical. When healthy, there's no skill player (we're excluding quarterbacks) who creates a bigger mismatch on his own than Gronkowski.

He makes such a difference that if he is on the field for all 16 games this season, the Patriots will challenge the Broncos for the best offense in the NFL. Here's why.

McDaniels impressed with Garoppolo, Brady

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Some key points from Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels chat after the first day of camp:

Garoppolo and the quarterback approach. McDaniels said rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has a great mindset and approach to learning the game, and that the trio of Brady, Ryan Mallett and Garoppolo fit well together. “It's exciting to have three guys in the same room that are at different stages of their development in their career, but they all approach learning the same way,” McDaniels said. “[They're asking] 'what can I do better? What did I do that I can fix tomorrow?' And Jimmy is no different.”

Brady still has the glimmer in his eye. Brady began his 15th training camp Thursday and still treats it like he did as the 199th pick out of Michigan in 2000 NFL draft. McDaniels views Brady's attitude as unique and a great influence on the younger players. “The thing that's so impressive to is how he [Brady] comes back every year just like he's a first or second year guy,” he said.“He's got that glimmer in his eye.”

Gronkowski's value on the practice field. Having a healthy Rob Gronkowski changes the Patriots' offense and McDaniels is obviously pleased to have the star tight end on the practice field. “Having every player out here is great and Rob is a part of the process that we are going through,” he said. While Gronkowski did not participate in team drills, he took a lot of repetitions with Brady in individual drills and post-practice. McDaniels said of Gronkowski's participation, “When he is out here in certain periods, he is getting a lot out of them.”

Dobson's progress. Second-year wide receiver Aaron Dobson is expected to make a significant jump from his rookie season to 2014. With Dobson starting camp on the active/physically-unable-to-perform list as he recovers from a foot injury, McDaniels addressed Dobson's practice routine and progress. “You can still learn in the meeting rooms and prepare like you are coming out to practice every day and then you work hard at the things you are doing in order to get back,” he said.

New things to come on the offense. McDaniels elaborated on some of the points head coach Bill Belichick made in his press conference Thursday morning about the specialization of the game. There is a strong focus on fundamentals and technique in camp, though McDaniels is also trying to work some new things into the offense to give the team an advantage. When a reporter asked what new things are coming, McDaniels laughed off the question. “I can't tell you those things.” Looks like we will have to wait and see what unfolds.