Patriots Notes: Why Playing In Preseason Games Matters To Tom Brady

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FOXBORO, Mass. — Some notes and nuggets from Wednesday as the New England Patriots prepare to board a plane to Detroit:

— After sitting out the Patriots’ preseason opener, quarterback Tom Brady played Saturday night against the Houston Texans. So did most of New England’s other starters. All of them are likely to see increased workloads Friday night against the Lions in preseason game No. 3, which typically bears the closest resemblance to a regular-season contest.

Brady has nothing to prove in these exhibition games — he hasn’t had to fight for a roster spot in nearly 20 years — but playing in the preseason still has value to him. He explained why in his Wednesday morning news conference.

“For me, it’s just feeling the rhythm of the game, and it’s different than practice,” Brady said. “The rhythm of practice is very different, and the only way to simulate the game is to play. I can draw on a lot of experience, but it’s nice to get out there and actually do it. I mean, it was fun being out there last week. It will be, obviously, fun being out there this week, but you’re just trying to build up for one game, the start of the season in September. Everything is building toward that.”

The Patriots’ offseason shopping spree made the preseason even more important. These games allow Brady to get acquainted with impact newcomers like wide receiver Brandin Cooks and running backs Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee. Burkhead was the star of Saturday’s game, catching a 22-yard touchdown pass from Brady on the Patriots’ second offensive series.

“Those snaps that you’re taking with new players are really important,” Brady said. “It was nice to get Rex a touchdown pass and just for him to feel what it’s like for all us to look at another guy’s eyes in the huddle during the course of a game and saying, ‘Look, this is where we’re at. This is football. This is exactly what we’re going to be doing when the season kicks off on (Sept. 7).’ ”

— Patriots coach Bill Belichick mentioned during his morning presser that every New England linebacker has worn the green helmet dot — reserved for the defensive play-caller — at one point or another this preseason.

“We’ve given it to all our linebackers just to see how they handle it, just to give them some experience, so if it came up, the first time wouldn’t be in a regular-season game,” Belichick explained. “We’re allowed to have more in preseason, so I think we’ve hit most of the guys that would have any outside chance of having it, hopefully.”

Dont’a Hightower typically handles play-calling duties for the Patriots’ defense when he is on the field. But with Hightower potentially shifting to the edge this season, that responsibility could fall to David Harris or Elandon Roberts.

— The big news of the week in Boston sports was the blockbuster trade the Celtics swung Tuesday night to land All-Star guard Kyrie Irving.

Belichick has been spotted courtside at several C’s games in recent years, but he wasn’t interested in giving his take on the deal.

“Yeah, I’m really focused on our team,” the coach said. “I’ve got my plate full with that.”

For full coverage of the Irving-Isaiah Thomas swap and what it means for both the Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers, click here.

Thumbnail photo via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images

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