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Tom Brady responds to criticism that he’s declining: ‘My wife [and] mom think I’ve played pretty good’ 06.18.14 at 2:45 pm ET
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Tom Brady was all smiles after Wednesday minicamp practice at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Tom Brady was all smiles after Wednesday minicamp practice at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Not that he needed it, but Tom Brady was given some inspiration recently when it was written that his game is on the decline and he is no longer among the very elite quarterbacks in the NFL.

On Wednesday, he fired back, sort of.

“I’m always pretty fired up,” Brady said after minicamp practice outside a steamy Gillette Stadium. “I think there’s people who always have opinions about us as athletes. You just try to go out there and do your best and you go home at night realizing you left it all out on the field. Some days you don’t play your best but that’s sports. I try to go out there and be the best I can be this year.

“Who were they? Jets fans or Dolphins fans or Patriots fans, I don’t know. Everyone is a little biased. My wife thinks I’ve played pretty good. My mom thinks I’ve played pretty good. It doesn’t matter.”

Sam Monson, of Pro Football Focus, wrote that Brady’s game has been “in decline” for some time.

At the end of Brady’s 10-minute session with reporters, he summarized his motivation and drive to stay on top of his game, bringing up his past, including his selection in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft.

“You’ve got to do it,” Brady said of his work and work ethic. “You’ve got to put in the time. If you want to be special at this game, then you’ve got to do whatever it takes. Some things come more naturally to certain people. The mental part came pretty naturally for me. I really had to work hard on the physical part [on] what it takes to be an NFL player. There was a reason I was sixth round pick because I didn’t have much ability so I’ve got to try to work hard to improve those things over the years while still keeping my mental game sharp.”

Brady also admitted that his Brazilian supermodel wife, Gisele, will be heading to her homeland to take in the World Cup. His plans are not quite as firm.

“I was watching, yeah. It’s been pretty fun to watch the last week or so,” Brady said. “There’s a lot of good games. We’re pretty focused on the football stuff here but obviously what’s going on in the world in sports is great. I love watching.”

“I’m not sure. I haven’t finalized everything. It’s a busy time. I have three kids at home. They take up a lot of time and energy. I know my wife is heading down there, which will be fun for her.”

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Read More: Gisele, Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots, nfl
Jimmy Garoppolo is ready to be ‘consistently good, not occasionally great’ 06.17.14 at 5:11 pm ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo has been an eager learner during Patriots OTAs and minicamp. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Jimmy Garoppolo has been an eager learner during Patriots OTAs and minicamp. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Jimmy Garoppolo is getting up to speed with the high-powered Patriots offense with each passing day. These days include two-hour sessions during minicamp outside Gillette Stadium.

The rookie quarterback out of Eastern Illinois was as sharp Tuesday in the opening of minicamp as he has been in the 10 previous practices during OTAs, connecting with Jeremy Johnson on a long touchdown pass late in the workout.

“It was a good read,” Garoppolo said before cracking a smile of confidence. “It was just one of those things, you see safeties rotate, you get your eyes in the right place and you have to have efficient eyes. I did that on that play.

“It’s a day-by-day process. I went out there and had a good day today,” Garoppolo said.

Garoppolo is obviously working behind Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett. But for the second straight week, Garoppolo got all of the second team snaps as Ryan Mallett was off the practice field and inside the field house while the team help minicamp practice outside in the heat. As for the heat of battling for the back-up job behind Brady, Garoppolo said things couldn’t be going much better.

“Without a doubt, Tom does a great job of just going out there,” Garoppolo said. “Guys look to him as a coach on the field and that’s what you want in a quarterback. So, just watching and learning, not so much what he tells me but just watching his mannerisms, I’ve learned a lot.”

Garoppolo said he is, by no means, thinking of being Brady’s heir apparent several years down the road.

“It’s just one of those things that you can’t really focus on that,” he added. “If you’re focused on that, you’re focused on the wrong thing. My main focus was coming out here and being very consistent, day in and day out. It’s a grind. You have to do good each and every day.”

Garoppolo said he’s excited to be working with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

“It’s awesome. Josh, he’s just like me,” Garoppolo said. “He’s just an energetic guy, loves the offense, loves football and he’ll go out there and have a great time every day.”

As for comparing this to workouts and practices at Eastern Illinois, Garoppolo said it really doesn’t.

“I don’t know if you could even compare the two,” he said. “It’s night and day. We come out here. It’s gorgeous out today, had a great day of practice. What else would you rather be doing?

“It’s a process, for sure. It’s just one of those things you have to take it day-by-day. Each day is different and you have to be consistently good, not occasionally great. You have to come out here and do your best every single day and let the coaches see what you can do. It’s very fast but that’s what Coach Belichick wants it to be. He wants to have great tempo in and out of the huddle and moving from station to station. I think we did a good job of that today.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Eastern Illinois, Jimmy Garoppolo, Josh McDaniels
Tuesday minicamp notes: Does Duron Harmon have inside track at safety? at 2:00 pm ET
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Duron Harmon appears to have the inside track on a starting safety job. (AP)

Duron Harmon appears to have the inside track on a starting safety job. (AP)

FOXBORO — The Patriots just wrapped up the first day of their mandatory minicamp session on a warm day behind Gillette Stadium. The session, which ran for roughly two hours, was held in sweats, T-shirts and helmets. Here are a few quick notes:

– Keeping in mind that the players were again in numberless jerseys, the following players were not spotted at the start of the session: wide receiver Aaron Dobson, cornerback Malcolm Butler, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, linebacker Darius Fleming, defensive lineman Dominique Easley and defensive lineman Armond Armstead. In addition, a rehab group that included special teamer Matthew Slater, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and D.J. Williams and quarterback Ryan Mallett all disappeared into the practice bubble shortly after the start of practice.

– With Mallett sidelined, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo again got lots of work, and while he wasn’t great, he certainly appeared to be sharper than he was in the final OTA session last week. (The last OTA that the media had access to.) He had maybe his nicest pass of the day when he connected on a deep sideline route with Wilson van Hooser toward the end of practice. Garoppolo drew a large media crowd at the end of practice.

– Earlier in the day, Patriots coach Bill Belichick cautioned against reading too much into what’s going on throughout the OTAs and minicamp, but it appears that the safety job opposite Devin McCourty is Duron Harmon‘s to lose. A couple times throughout the day, while the rest of the team was working through special teams or offensive drills, a collection of defensive backs could be seen working together on their own on one corner of the field. It was a group that included McCourty, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner — the presumed starters in the secondary — as well as Harmon. We’ll have more from Harmon later in the day, as he drew a sizable group of reporters once practice ended. (Tommy Kelly and Chandler Jones also talked.)

– The specialists appeared to have a pretty good day, with Ryan Allen really booming a series of punts throughout the day. Not like this has been a huge topic of conversation, but it’s worth mentioning that Allen and kicker Stephen Gostkowski don’t have any competition at this point on the roster. And based on how Allen looked today, not sure there’s any reason to have an extra punter in camp to serve as competition.

– Both Bryan Stork and Ryan Wendell each had to run a lap after a botched snap, while Jeremy Gallon dropped a punt.

Danny Amendola (7-on-7s) and Jeremy Johnson (11-on-11s) each had a pair of nice catches that stuck out.

– The Belichick Playlist at camp today was heavy on U2 and The Who, with Coldplay and Bon Jovi thrown in for good measure. And owner Robert Kraft was on the field for a sizable portion of practice, taking in the action.

Read More: Aaron Dobson, Bill Belichick, Brandon Browner, Darrelle Revis
Plenty of parallels between Patriots, Spurs 06.16.14 at 6:00 am ET
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Tom Brady and Tim Duncan have the same overall approach to their respective games. (AP)

Tom Brady and Tim Duncan have the same overall approach to their respective games. (AP)

The Spurs wrapped up their fifth NBA championship with a 104-87 win over the Heat on Sunday night, a title that cements the legacy of the Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan as one of the best coach/player combinations in the recent history of professional basketball.

It’s a different sport, but from this viewpoint, it’s hard not to be struck by the parallels between the Patriots and Spurs. The two franchises seem to be cut from the same cloth — the management style, team-building approach and relationship between coach and star player that allow San Antonio to prosper are markedly similar to the way New England approaches life in the NFL.

As we wrote last year, the commonalties between the two teams are numerous. It starts with the stars, and Duncan and Tom Brady are cut from the same cloth. Both set the tone for their teams, and both have a like-minded approach with their respective head coach, a relationship built on trust and understanding. In addition, both teams needed a little luck to land their respective star: Brady was somehow available in the sixth round, while Duncan was acquired after the Spurs saw the bounce of a few ping-pong balls go their way.

Last week, Brady acknowledged he was impressed by the level of teamwork displayed by both the Spurs and the Heat to that point in the NBA Finals.

“He’€™s incredible,”€ Brady said of Duncan. “I think the thing you take from watching (the two teams) is how good they are as a team. LeBron James without the other guys he has is nothing. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, without the guys they have on that team, as an individual you can’€™t succeed in a team sport.

“€œIt’€™s very different than golf or one of those sports that maybe some guys like. I like it as a hobby, but team sports, to me, bring out the best in everybody. They bring out your competitiveness, the discipline, the willingness to do whatever is best for the team and not necessarily the individual.”

Then, there are the coaches: Bill Belichick and Popovich are similarly inclined individualists who were born into military families. Both were well-respected assistants who eventually evolved into successful head coaches, and both do not suffer fools gladly.

Ultimate, the organizational philosophies also mesh. Former Patriots GM Scott Pioli and Spurs GM R.C. Buford have spent time together comparing notes on the team-building process, and both understand the idea that when it comes to constructing a roster, it’s not about collecting talent. It’s about assembling a team.

“œJust because the football and the basketball aren’€™t shaped alike,” Pioli told reporters a few years ago who asked about the commonalities between the Patriots and Spurs, “€œdoesn’€™t mean ideas can’€™t be.

“€œTo have sustained excellence over a decade is extremely difficult, and the Spurs have done it as well as anyone,”€ Pioli added. “€œWhat is really impressive is their player development — the fact that they’€™ve brought in so many international players and integrated them into a system.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Gregg Popovich, LeBron James, R.C. Buford
LB Quentin Groves visits Patriots, Rex Ryan backs Calvin Pryor and more 06.11.14 at 8:57 pm ET
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Quentin Groves knocks the ball away from Sam Bradford in a 2012 contest. (AP)

Quentin Groves knocks the ball away from Sam Bradford in a 2012 contest. (AP)

Four football notes from a relatively quiet day with the Patriots:

1. Former Browns pass rusher Quentin Groves visited the Patriots on Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media. The seven-year veteran, who was part of a surprise cut by Cleveland coach Mike Pettine late last week, had two sacks and five tackles in just 53 snaps last year with the Browns. (The 6-foot-3, 265-pound linebacker was limited to just five games in 2013 because of an ankle injury.) The Auburn product has played for four teams in his seven seasons in the league, and had his best stint with the Cardinals in 2012 when he had 46 tackles and four sacks in 16 games with Arizona.

2. Less than a week after Jets rookie Calvin Pryor acknowledged he’s well aware of who he’s not supposed to like when it comes to the rest of the NFL, New York coach Rex Ryan said he has no problem with Pryor’s statement. “I like it,” Ryan said in a Wednesday press conference. “He knows who the enemy is.” Last week, New York’s first-round pick out of Louisville was asked if he knew he was supposed to hate Tom Brady and the Patriots. Pryor responded in the affirmative: “Yeah, man. We don’€™t like Tom [Brady] at all. When I first came here, that was one of the first things I heard about: We hate the Patriots, and we hate the Giants,” he said. “That’€™s what everybody was telling me. We hate those guys, and I look forward to playing them this season.”

3. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was asked by Carolina media about the comments from wide receiver Brandon LaFell, who said last week that his new team (the Patriots) works “a little harder” than his old team (Carolina). “That’€™s Brandon,”€ said Newton, who told reporters he’€™s happy for LaFell and his new three-year, $9 million contract with the Patriots. “€œIf that’€™s how he feels, that’€™s how he feels. … I will always say I beg to differ. But that’€™s just me talking. … I feel as if the Carolina Panther way is we don’€™t do too much talking. We have to prove it.”

4. In the wake of our Sunday notes column where we noticed the fluctuations in the average age of NFL GMs in recent years, we found the average ages of MLB GMs over the last decade. By way of comparison, the average age in the NFL has gone from 52.8 (2004), 49.4 (2009) and 50.4 (2014). In the majors, it is lower, but not by much — the average age of MLB GMs has gone from 46.2 (2004) to 46.5 (2009) to 50.2 (2014).

Read More: Brandon LaFell, Calvin Pryor, Cam Newton, Quentin Groves
Tom Brady: Only numbers that truly matter are wins, losses 06.09.14 at 4:03 pm ET
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Tom Brady said Monday the only stat that truly matters are wins. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Tom Brady said Monday the only stat that truly matters are wins. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

As far as Tom Brady is concerned, there’s only one stat that matters: wins.

In the wake of a recent column from last week that suggested Brady was not the quarterback he once was because of some statistical slippage, the quarterback said Monday that when you get right down to the heart of the matter, victories are what matter most.

“I think that people pay to watch the games on TV because there’€™s a scoreboard,” he said. “I mean, I think that’€™s what it’€™s all about. If there were no scoreboard, then people wouldn’€™t tune in and watch. I think that’s what it’s all about.

“There’€™s only one stat that matters, and that’s because the competition in the NFL is very high, extremely high on a daily basis,” he added. “Some individuals compete against other guys and some compete against themselves, so even if you don’€™t have someone you’€™re competing against, if you’€™re competing against yourself, you’€™re always going to get better because there’€™s always competition. And the guys that I’ve been around that find ways to motivate themselves, those are the best players. They don’€™t have to wait for some Sunday in September to find out if they’€™re competitive. You figure that out in March. You figure that out in February, at the end of February when no one else really is working. The competition of what’€™s inside of you and how that’€™s going to really help your team and build your team to be more competitive. That’€™s all infectious.

“But you can’t sit here and compare one year to another year or this player to that player. I think winning games is the most important thing, certainly for this organization. When you come here, you learn that pretty quickly — whatever matters to you as an individual, it’s far distant from what the team goals are, and the team goals are one thing: to score more points than the other team.”

Brady said that philosophy hasn’t changed since he first showed up as a rookie in the spring of 2000, and he hopes to be able to carry it forward for as long as possible.

“I think for me, I’ve become more clearly focused for what I need to do to help us. Hopefully, I’m answering those questions a long time from now, too. You guys can just reprint the stories you’re running right now,” he said. “I want to do this for this team for as long as I possibly can. I love playing football for this team and this organization. My goal is to continue to play at a high level, and there’s nothing that really gets in the way of that.

“I’ve tried to be pretty consistent for a long period of time. That’s really a great motivation for me — to be the same caliber player that I’ve always been for this team, and for the team to really be able to depend on me.”

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Read More: Tom Brady,
As far as veterans are concerned, rookie QB Jimmy Garoppolo making the grade at 6:00 am ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo was taken in the second round out of Eastern Illinois. (AP)

Jimmy Garoppolo was taken in the second round out of Eastern Illinois. (AP)

FOXBORO — It’s only been a handful of OTA sessions, but to this point, the Patriots veterans have been impressed with the work of rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

The consensus seems to be that he’s not only delivering the goods on the practice field — albeit in limited snaps behind Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett — but he’s fully aware of his place in the locker room hierarchy as a rookie.

“I’ll tell you, he shocked me, man,” running back Stevan Ridley said after last Thursday’s workout. “He came in [and] he seems confident. He is a rookie, though. Everybody’s going to make mistakes, but he’s quiet, and he has been working hard.

“I didn’€™t know too much about him, but as I watched him, I liked him the more I watched him,” Ridley added. “He’€™s what we expect out of a quarterback. You don’€™t say too much — you just take it in and do your job.’€

In last Thursday’s practice session, the first action for Garoppolo in full view of the media, there were some good throws and some bad throws, including an interception on a ball picked off by linebacker Chris White. All in all, a rookie performance in the rain that was probably about par for the course for a young quarterback at this time of the offseason.

Garoppolo wasn’t made available to the media after the session, but some of the other offensive veterans acknowledged they have been impressed with the rookie, who has managed to emerge as an early leader among the first year players.

“The guy is pretty good — he’s got a lot of talent,” said wide receiver Brandon LaFell. “He’s a rookie, so he has a lot to learn. But he has a lot of potential. If he continues to work, he’ll be a good quarterback in this league.”

Wide receiver Danny Amendola had the chance to work out briefly with Garoppolo prior to the draft, and said that the rookie out of Eastern Illinois has impressed him as a “smart” player.

“He’s a smart player,” Amendola added. “I don’t know if they ran the same offense in college, but he’s picked up the system really well. I know he’s been putting in his time and his work getting in the books. He’s been doing good so far.”

In addition, Amendola added that Garoppolo has shown a nice command of the huddle, at least to this point.

“That’s huge. It’s one thing to throw the ball and make the plays on your feet. But to actually control 10 other guys and get them to where they need to be is a huge part of playing the quarterback position. He’s learning from the best [in] Tom and Mallett. He’s doing well.”

Read More: Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Mallett
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