FOXBORO — Even before he knew he might have to leave Foxboro for a day to be with his expecting wife, Tom Brady  knew this wouldn’t be an easy week of practice. As a matter of fact, it’s likely to be quite annoying, and we’re not talking about crying babies.
With 6-foot-6 J.J. Watt waiting in the wings, Bill Belichick  will be using all sorts of gimmicks in practice to mimic the length Brady will have to deal with, like using tennis rackets, brooms and who knows, maybe even lacrosse sticks, given Belichick affinity for the sport he starred in during college at Wesleyan.
“The way that he gets after the quarterback, stops the run. I think he does both of those things well, stopping the run, rushing the quarterback as well as defending the pass game with those passes batted down. He’s an impressive player as you can see on film with his agility, his quickness, his length, his instinctiveness in getting his hands up in the air and getting ready to jump and bat balls down. He’s a great player for that defense; they really rely on him.”
And it comes as no surprise that Watt and the Texans lead the NFL in balls batted down at the line of scrimmage. How do you prepare for that if you’re Tom Brady?
“It’s hard, it’s challenging,” Brady said Wednesday. “There are ways to work on it in practice with different guys. I know Coach Belichick likes to bring guys with racquetball paddles and stick those up in the air. I’m sure there will be a whole bunch of those there this week, which doesn’t always make me very happy, but that’s probably a good way to prepare for it. It’s like throwing over this wall: it’s hard. You’ve just got to try to find an area. We’ve played other big D-lines before, tall guys that are rangy and really instinctive. The Giants  did a great job of that last year. This is another team that really challenges you to do that.”