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Tom Brady thanks Wes Welker for mentoring Julian Edelman, develops chemistry with Danny Amendola

08.05.14 at 9:34 pm ET

RICHMOND, Va. — Wes Welker left after the 2012 season for Denver. But Tom Brady hasn’t forgotten what he did in his six seasons with the Patriots.

After a scorching practice against the Redskins Tuesday in Richmond, Brady thanked Welker for helping to develop Julian Edelman, a working relationship that continues to blossom in the Patriots passing game.

Brady was asked Tuesday if he feels he’s getting close to the same chemistry with Edelman that he had with Welker.

“Well, it’€™s hard to compare,” Brady said. “I think Wes was such a special player for our team and I was fortunate enough to play with him for that period. But Julian in his own right has worked his tail off. I think he really had a great mentor in Wes, someone he could really look up to.

“They play a little bit similar; different players, but they both work extremely hard. Football is so important to the both of them and I think that really wore off on Julian. Julian has worked his tail off to get where he’€™s at. I think he’€™s really taken advantage of every opportunity that he’€™s gotten, Julian has. I’€™m really proud of him. He keeps coming out and making plays and he’€™s done such a great job being so dependable and reliable for our team, it’€™s great to have him.”

What has been obvious so far in training camp practices is that Brady’s favorite target not named Rob Gronkowski is Edelman. Brady and Edelman have been clicking. Edelman has made play after play and Brady has rewarded him by looking in his direction time after time.

That doesn’t mean Brady won’t poke a little fun at Edelman and Danny Amendola, who showed flashes of brilliance on Tuesday in the marathon practice in Richmond.

“I’ve got some of the little pygmies out there like Julian and Danny and it’€™s nice to have a little bigger guy out there from time to time who has a bigger catch radius,” Brady said. “Hopefully, Danny and Julian don’€™t get mad at me for saying that. They won’€™t. They know I’€™m joking.”

That “little bigger guy” Brady refers to is Brandon LaFell, who has been getting a few more looks on the first team when not catching passes from Ryan Mallett.

“He keeps making more plays,” Brady said of LaFell. “He’€™s done a great job. Today he made a lot of plays out there. He’€™s understanding better and better. He’€™s a veteran. He’€™s savvy, knows how to run the routes, big body, big frame, makes a lot of tough catches.”

Here are a few more takeaways from Brady on Tuesday:

“It cooled off for us. It got off to a hot start but it wasn’€™t as hot as I thought.”

Q: What are your thoughts on the first two practices you’€™ve had so far?

TB: We’€™ve run a lot of lot of plays. This is probably one of the longer practices I can remember. We did a lot of situational stuff. It was a lot to do. I think we’€™re going to learn a lot from today’€™s practice. It’€™s been two fun days to go against another team and have a different kind of energy out here than a normal training camp practice. It’€™s been a lot of fun. Hopefully we finish off with one good day tomorrow then we play Thursday night.

Q: With the crowd here and practicing against a different team, is it amped up a little bit?

TB: Well, it’€™s very situational. There were a lot of two-minute drills, we did a lot of red area stuff today, a lot of one-on-ones ‘€“ just a lot of competitive situations. There’€™s not a lot of individual work in days like this. It’€™s just more competitive team stuff and we did a lot of different things. So, we’€™ll be able to learn from it. When you practice against your own defense, you get a lot of the same looks but what we’€™re seeing here the last couple days is pretty different than what our defense does so hopefully it serves us well in the long run.

Q: Devin McCourty said he loves joint practices because it’€™s a time to build the team because it’€™s not offense vs. defense, it’€™s Patriots vs. Redskins. Do you view it the same way?

TB: Yeah, and I think everybody’€™s goal is just to get better. You make a mistake, you have to learn from it. We certainly made plenty of them out here yesterday and today. We’€™ve got to learn from the ones we made and then hopefully when we get into the game on Thursday night, they don’€™t really come up again and we can move forward, try to get some great execution out there under real circumstances where the pass rush is there and the ball has to come out in time and you’€™re really going to see where we’€™re at.

Q: What little benefits have you seen already from doing the joint practices?

TB: Well, we got a ton of reps. Yesterday, I’€™d say it was probably 80 or 90 reps. Today was probably pretty similar. Typically you don’€™t get that in a given week. We got a lot of work against a good defense. There are a lot of different things that they do. They have some really good skill players on defense ‘€“ some very good corners and safeties. We’€™re going to need to tighten our things up before Thursday night.

Q: You make 11-on-11 look easy at times. What was working on offense or what were you seeing on in the defense that was leaving those holes for you?

TB: I think it’€™s always challenging out there. I don’€™t think we have everything figured out. They have a great pass rush which really doesn’€™t come into play in those team drills that we’€™re doing. I have to drop back and find the open guy and get rid of the ball quickly because it’€™s usually not very good things happening when I’€™m holding the ball. So, I try to get it out as quick as I can and get it to somebody who can actually do something with it because I can’€™t actually do anything with it other than throw it.

Q: How important are conditioning and focus? Obviously it’€™s one thing to do rep after rep, but when you’€™re tired and it’€™s hot, what’€™s the value of that?

TB: Yeah, it builds some mental toughness. You see where you’€™re at. It’€™s certainly not easy to come out here and be out here for three hours and every drill is competitive and every drill you want to do the right thing but that’€™s where the mental toughness comes into play. You have to hunker down and see where you’€™re at. Our guys have worked pretty hard over the last couple days. [You’€™ve] lost a lot of fluid, you have to get in and really hydrate yourself so you can come out tomorrow and be at it again.

Q: Have you and Robert Griffin III been able to talk at all? Has he picked your brain at all?

TB: Just briefly, just a couple times on the field. I got a chance to watch him and he’€™s been a great player since he came into the league and been a great player in college. He’€™s got a great future.

Q: Bill Belichick talked about your relationship and how you’€™ve been together since the get-go. How would you describe your relationship with Coach Belichick?

TB: I try to do my job the best I can and he tries to do his job the best he can. It’€™s all business and we try to, I know what he expects of me and I try to go out there and do the best job I can for the team.

Q: What’€™s the benefit of having him your whole career?

TB: The expectations I know. He’€™s such a consistent coach. I think he always expects the most out of every player and every day, every drill, every walkthrough, every meeting. He holds everybody accountable. It’€™s a great thing to be able to do, is all the players really on the same page. He’€™s a great coach.

Q: Coach Belichick said that Ryan Mallett knows the playbook A to Z. What have you seen from him in terms of his growth and what he’€™s done this summer?

TB: He’€™s done a great job. He’€™s just grown and become a great quarterback. You see it when he has these opportunities out here like he’€™s been getting. He really hasn’€™t gotten many over the years. But I think the whole team is confident that he can go out there and do the job.

Q: Last year there were a lot of moving pieces at the beginning of the year. Does it help a little to have more continuity this year and a lot of the same guys coming back?

TB: Yeah, I think the more experience you have typically the better it goes and I think that we’€™ve had a lot of growing pains, you know. But that always happens and it happens with different parts of your team every year. Just the way football is now, it’€™s not going to be the same group every year and there’€™s going to be some part of the team that hasn’€™t really advanced over the other part of the team based on the way a team turns over. There’€™s certainly more familiarity within the skill group, but now we have an opportunity to go out there and try to get a lot of good work done in the preseason games to prepare us for the opener.

Q: Does that put you at a more advanced point this year then you were last year?

TB: It’€™s hard to say. I think this team is a little bit different, but like I said the experience is very helpful and I think having the opportunity to play with Danny [Amendola] and KT [Kenbrell Thompkins] and Aaron [Dobson] and Josh [Boyce] and Brandon LaFell comes in this year and he’€™s done a great job since he’€™s come in and done things. James White has done a great job. The more guys that we have on the same page, doing the right thing, that do their job really well dependably and consistently, the better we’€™re going to be. We’€™ve got to have an offense where you can dish the ball to really anybody and that person is going to make the play.

Q: Have you been surprised how many Patriots fans there are down here in Virginia? There are a lot of 12 jerseys in that crowd.

TB: Are there? Yeah, I haven’€™t spotted too many. There are a lot of Redskins fans ‘€“ they got a great turnout. I hear an occasional cheer when we make a good play, so that’€™s good. It probably won’€™t be that way on Thursday night.

Q: Your birthday was Sunday. Where in Richmond did you celebrate?

TB: At the beautiful Hilton hotel where we were staying.

Q: Robert Griffin said you told him he has a lot more football left in him, being in just his third year. What words of advice could you impart on him?

TB: I mean, he’€™s a great quarterback. He plays at a very high level. I’€™m trying to watch everybody and learn from them and the different things they do, so this is a great opportunity for me to watch how other teams do things, watch their offense, watch their quarterbacks. I’m always trying to learn ‘€“ even in my 15th year, I’€™m trying to learn too.

Q: How about the pressure of being a quarterback in this league and everything you have to deal with, the spotlight and everything. You seem to have navigated that well. Is there a trick to it or is everyone just different?

TB: That’€™s a great question. I was pretty under the radar when I was a younger player. I think the news cycle is different now and there is so much pressure for the young guys. The spotlight is so bright and these younger players have an opportunity to develop and there are less practices now and less time they can spend at the facility, so there are different challenges that they’€™re facing and the competition always finds a way to even itself out. But it was just quite a bit different when I was a young player. I could probably get away with a lot of things that these younger guys can’€™t get away with. But fortunately I’€™m married and have three kids now and there’€™s nothing to do but go home and be a dad. But that’€™s the way it is, that’€™s life. It’€™s a good problem to have.

Q: Do you guys enjoy travelling for these joint practices? You’€™ve done it a few times in the last few years. Does it kind of keep camp a little fresh for you to hit the road and play in different places?

TB: Yeah, I think all of these are great opportunities for us to get better. We played against some different defenses here, seen some different schemes and coverages, different types of players. It’€™s all good work for us. You have to take advantage of all of these opportunities you get at this time of year because as I said, the practices are limited so you just can’€™t come out and mess around and jerk around for a whole practice and lose ground on the rest of the league. No matter who you’€™re practicing against, whether it’€™s your team or another team, you have to go out there and get something out of it.

Read More: 2014 training camp, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, New England Patriots



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