Tom Brady expects to play a half, ‘hopefully, play a lot more than that’ against Panthers
|08.20.14 at 6:16 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Tom Brady knows what everyone else does about preseason game No. 3 – it’s the real dress rehearsal for the regular season opener on Sept. 7 in South Florida.
And Brady will be going up against a very physical and aggressive Panthers team that is thinking along the same lines when the Patriots and Carolina square off Friday night at Gillette Stadium.
For that reason, Brady and his offensive mates have done a lot of game-planning off tape from their game last November in Charlotte and Carolina’s first two preseason games to be ready for what’s ahead Friday.
“We’ve done a bunch of that, and it’s a good game to really gauge where we’re at because we’re playing a really good team, a great defense ‘ one that we played last year and really struggled with at times,” Brady said, referencing the 24-20 loss to the Panthers on the controversial no-call involving Luke Kuechly and Rob Gronkowski in the end zone. “So, this will tell us where we’re at.
“We’ve got to go out there and execute really well in order to move the ball down the field. They’ve got some of the best linebackers, a very good secondary and one of the best pass rushes in the league. It’s a good challenge, and I think the guys are excited. This is big week that we’ve tried to make some improvements, and we’ll see if it pays off.”
Besides Kuechly, the Panthers feature linebacker Thomas Davis and defensive linemen Greg Kelly and Star Lotulelei who combined to sack Brady twice while recording three tackles for losses in the Panthers’ win. Game planning for this preseason opponent only makes sense.
“Yeah, definitely,” Brady said. “I think this has been a good week of preparation for us. In the last two weeks, we’ve actually had the opportunity to practice against both those teams, which you’re kind of learning on the fly. We didn’t do a lot leading up to those two weeks because we figured the three days of practice would get us familiar enough. This week has been much more like a normal week.
“We’ve had scouting report meetings and have talked about coverages and blitzes and third downs and red areas and two-minute and all the different situations that come up. [They are] a very unique team that is very good. We really got everything we could handle last year. It was one of the best defenses in the league, so we’re going to have to come out and play really well and have the right plays on at the right time and try to go out and execute the best we can.”
As WEEI.com’s Chris Price has referenced before, this is the game where Brady usually sees up to 50 snaps over a full half of play, sometimes bleeding into the third quarter. Game conditioning is also a big factor to look for Friday as Brady runs his offense through various tempos, including traditional huddle, no-huddle, hurry-up, two-minute and red zone.
“Coach [Bill Belichick] always does a great job of trying to keep us in great condition, so we do a lot of running in practice, a lot of post-practice running,” Brady said Wednesday. “But you’ve got to get out there and play, get your mind working and get into the situations and concentrate for extended periods of time. And certainly we’re going to be asked to do four quarters of that in three weeks. We’ve got to go out and see where we’re at, and hopefully we’re in good enough condition to play a half. Hopefully, we can play a lot more than that, but it’ll be good to see where we’re at.”