FOXBORO, Mass. — Tom Brady was a spectator for the New England Patriots’ 2014 preseason opener, as were a number of his fellow starters.
Now, after two days of sharing the Gillette Stadium practice fields with the Philadelphia Eagles, the quarterback is ready to strap the pads on for real.
“You always look forward to the game,” Brady told reporters after Wednesday’s joint practice session. “You play the game, you don’t work the game, so that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re going to play and have a lot of fun. We’ve got a day of prep (Thursday), then we’re going to go out there and let it rip on Friday.”
Though Brady is expected to start Friday against the Eagles and said he hopes to play “as much as coach (Bill Belichick) will let me,” he’ll likely last no more than a few series before Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Garoppolo’s battle for the backup spot takes center stage. Because he sees relatively limited action in the preseason, Brady said he places an even greater emphasis on the increased competition of joint practices.
“They’re great, because you get a lot of real good, competitive work in,” he said. “In a preseason game, I don’t get as much reps, so certainly a lot of the situational stuff we did (Wednesday) is so valuable. Even though you know it, it’s just great review and great things to go over and remind yourself so when the games actually count, you feel like you’re a little bit ahead. …
“It’s just good to go up against really good competition, and I think that’s what it’s been. I think competition’s been at its best, and it usually brings out the best in all of us. Those guys are competing hard. So are we. We made our fair share of plays. I think we made plenty of mistakes to learn from, and I think the whole goal is to just come out here and get better, see where you’re at and measure yourself against another opponent.”
Wednesday’s session was a damp and rainy one — “a New England-type day,” as Brady called it — and that was evident at times on the field, particularly on one Patriots drive near the end of 11-on-11 drills. Brady threw three incompletions and fumbled once before the offense rebounded with a much cleaner performance on its final series of the day.
“I think it was poor execution on the drive before, and we just couldn’t get much out of it,” Brady said. “We had another opportunity, which usually doesn’t happen in the NFL — usually you don’t get a second chance — but in practice, you do. And we went out and did a better job.”
Photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images
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