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Tom Brady on D&C: Worth injury risk to play in preseason to ‘work those kinks out’

08.19.13 at 8:14 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly Monday morning appearance on Dennis & Callahan, with the Patriots looking strong after their first two preseason games, and talked about the promise of the 2013 season as well as the impact of the team’s many new players.

Brady, who is 18-for-20 for 172 yards and two touchdowns in the exhibitions, is cautiously optimistic about his team with half the preseason slate completed.

“We’ve shown some steady improvement,” he said. “We’re far from where we’re going to be. Hopefully by the time we play Buffalo [to open the regular season] — we have another really three full weeks of practice before that game is played. We’ve done some good things out there. We’ve had four possessions, we’ve had three touchdowns — and probably should have done better on that fourth drive.

“So, we’re doing some good things. We’ve just got to be able to do them on a consistent basis. That’s what pro football is all about. Because everybody is capable of going out and making good plays, but you’ve got to do it week in and week out, it’s got to show up on the practice field.

“The team evolves over the course of the season with injuries and so forth. So, you have an idea of how you want things to go, and then things change pretty rapidly when certain guys can’t play, whether that’s an offensive lineman or a tight end or a receiver. Being able to adjust and develop the team is so important this time of year. The entire fundamentals of the team, this is really where you build those fundamentals. Because during the season you’re just caught up in the game plan.

“It’s been good to this point, but it really means zero at this point, also. We’ve got to keep at it. We’re back at practice today.”

Brady made national headlines when he went down with an injury during practice last week, but he showed no ill effects in Friday’s victory over the Buccaneers. Recounting the injury, Brady said it was never as bad as it seemed.

“You’re just wondering what happened,” he said of the moment the injury occurred. “Because I didn’t obviously see anything. You just feel something, and then you react. And I went back in to finish the period out that we had going. Then [I] just talked to coach [Bill] Belichick and our trainer and we just figured, try to be safe. Actually, I felt bad that it caused more of a media story than it actually was worthy of, because I hate to really draw attention in that sort. We were just trying to be smart.”

Addressing whether it’s worth risking his health to play in the preseason, Brady said it’s crucial that he get out on the field with his teammates.

“There’s risk of injury in practice,” he said. “There’s risk of injury driving down to the stadium in the morning. [Laughter in reference to his car accident three years ago.] I know, there really was, seriously.

“It’s your only game prep. I haven’t taken a hit in eight months. It’s just hard to say, well, let’s just see what happens against Buffalo. You’ve got to put it in and you’ve got to see where you’re at, in terms of game speed and the reads. Things are different in the game — when you’re under the pressure of a play clock and a game clock and the headphones go out and the substitution’s wrong and now you’ve got to call a different play in the huddle. All these little things that one play in a regular-season game can cost you. So, you’ve got to try to work those kinks out as best you can before the season starts. We’re trying to do that, and we’ve got two more games to be able to do that. ‘€¦ It’s just a constant building process. The preseason games are really important to that building process.”

First-year Patriot Danny Amendola has made a good impression, catching six passes for 71 yards and a touchdown Friday night.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” Brady said. “He’s come in, he’s been tough, he’s been at every practice, including through the spring. ‘€¦ Danny’s been out there every single day. It’s really a credit to his hard work and his determination to get better, being part of the team. He’s been really fun to work with.

“You see the other night: He’s very aware, he catches balls everywhere, he’s fearless. It’s everything you’re looking for in a great receiver.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

On the promise of new players such as wide receivers Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins and tight end Zach Sudfeld: “I think you’ve got a pretty good idea after being around them for three or four months that all of them have really come in and done exactly what probably coach was hoping they would do. That’s why he brought them in — to help us win games, to have them help us as a team establish our quality of players. All those guys were brought in for a reason.

“The good part is they’ve really been able to be counted on. That’s through their work and their preparation and what they’ve done on the practice field. And then in the couple of weeks we had against the opponents, including the practices, they’ve really continued to do what they did all spring and through the early part of training camp. That’s a great thing for our team.

“We need really good players. When you lose good players, you’ve got to be able to replace those good players. What happens over the course of the season, that’s to be determined by what we do, and not by what I think now, or what I hope. It’s really by what we’re able to establish on a week-by-week basis.

“It’s been fun to watch the guys improve. Sudfeld, he’s really continued to make improvements and really impress everybody because of the way that he’s just come out to practice every day determined to work harder and get better at the things that maybe he wasn’t very good at coming out. KT and Aaron and Josh, the young receivers that we have, have done the same thing, they’ve all tried to come in and make improvements, listen to the coaching, listen to the other veteran players that have been around them. That’s a real credit to them and their understanding, and hopefully they can turn it on to be really great professionals.

“If you’re not a professional, you don’t last long. To play for a Bill Belichick-coached team, you’d better be smart, you’d better be tough, and you’d better put the team first.”

On the recent Men’s Health article in which he talked about maintaining his health as he enters his late 30s: “Being an athlete is a lifestyle decision. There’s no shortcuts. For me, what I’ve learned is sleeping obviously is important, your nutrition is so important to what you’re doing. Your hydration is so important to what you’re doing. The way you train is so important. The work that I get from my body coach to prepare my body to withstand something that happened in practice last week so that instead of becoming a two-week injury, becomes a 12-hour injury, where it’s something that you can work through overnight. Can you prepare your muscles and your joints for those types of things so that when they happen, yeah, they suck, they hurt, but you can move on past them. You try to eliminate hamstring issues and pulled quads and calves. Fortunately, unless it’s a contact injury, I don’t have to deal with those things because of the way that I train and prepare.”

More on his training regimen and its effects: “I’m really efficient in the way I take care of myself. My arm, my arm doesn’t hurt. I used to count throws in practice. I used to worry that I was overthrowing. Now I can throw a lot, and my arm doesn’t scream at me and go, What are you doing? Why are you working me so hard? My muscles just respond to the way that I ask them to train. And I hope that I can spread that information to a lot of athletes and to a lot of people over the rest of my life. As you get older, you don’t have to suck. It doesn’t have to be that way. Now, if you want to cut a bunch of corners, yeah, it’s going to suck. But it doesn’t have to be that way. And there’s a lot of guys that really want to work hard, it’s just, you’ve got to work hard doing the right thing. That, to me, is the most important thing.”

On the possibility of his sons playing football, and if his wife will have a say in that decision: “Mom has a say in everything. What are you talking about? [Laughter] To me, it’s the greatest sport. If they choose to play, I would totally support that. I love the competition of it, and most importantly I think the camaraderie of the guys that you get to be with. It’s the ultimate sport in that you’re held accountable to your teammates and yourself on a daily basis. Because you have to perform at a high level every day and every game and every practice. And if you don’t, you pay the price. Not just by maybe a bad article written about you, but you’re going to get the crap knocked out of you. That physical aspect of the game regulates everyone, regulates everyone’s attitude, regulates how you are as a teammate.

“If you can stick around for a long time and develop relationships with teammates and friends that will last you years and years, whether that’s high school football or peewee football or college football, those are the greatest relationships I’ve had. Now, I’ve only been in football, but I’ve had some really great relationships with people over the years by the way that I saw them commit themselves to something that wasn’t just about themselves, which was about the team. And that’s really a great lesson for me to learn, that’s a great lesson that I would love for my boys to learn.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Danny Amendola, Tom Brady,
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