FOXBOROUGH -- Tom Brady certainly has more fondness for reviewing game film than he does stories filled with his comments that create a stir throughout New England.
But the Patriots quarterback knew what was coming yesterday as he paced across the practice field toward a large gathering of media.
Two days ago, a story on Sports Illustrated's website included Brady's thoughts on receiver Deion Branch's holdout. The tone of the piece was that Brady was harboring anger toward team management.
Brady addressed the story yesterday after practice.
``I think it maybe has got overblown a little bit," said Brady, who turns 29 today. ``With Deion, when you build a relationship with someone for a long time -- and as Coach [Bill Belichick] said, the quarterback/receiver relationship is a little bit different -- he's one of my favorite guys. Obviously, sometimes when I speak maybe I do get a little emotional about things. But I love Deion. I love him as a person and as a player.
``The thing about it is that I don't make any decisions here. I don't lobby for things, I don't go into Coach Belichick's office and mention anything to him. He makes his own decisions. He and [vice president of player personnel] Scott [Pioli] do probably the best job in the league."
Asked if he spoke to Sports Illustrated to bring national attention to Branch's holdout, Brady said he had no ``motives or plans or anything like that."
In the piece, Brady said Branch was ``second to nobody" when it came to the elite receivers in the NFL. Brady attempted yesterday to place those comments into what he felt was the proper context.
``As it was presented, it was like, `Deion is not as good as some of these other players,' and [the writer] named a bunch of receivers," Brady said. ``I take offense when anybody says someone on my team is not that good. That's just kind of how it was."
Brady was then asked to characterize his emotions on the situation.
Is he upset at Branch for holding out?
Is he upset at the team for not upping the ante?
``Honestly, I don't think I'm upset at anybody, I'm really not," Brady said. ``I know that was probably characterized in the article, but I didn't ever say I was angry or anything like that. I'm not angry. It's totally out of my control. It's in the control of the people that I want it to be in control of, my coach and the general manager of our team. Like I said, they make great decisions. I don't have to worry about those.
``I just have to come out and try to play. When Deion gets out here, my job is going to be to get him going and get him up to speed, and get our continuity back. I'm excited when he does. I'm very confident he will. I know Deion very well and he wants to be here as bad as anybody."
Brady indicated that he and Branch talk quite a bit, although they haven't spoken about the stir created by the Sports Illustrated piece.
``I think he knows me well enough and he knows every thought of mine," Brady said. ``We're always talking and expressing thoughts. We've been through a lot together. He doesn't need to say anything to me. I know his thoughts on certain things and he knows mine. That's kind of the way it goes."
In June, Brady referred to Branch as ``probably the best player" in the Patriots' offense. He explained why yesterday.
``He's a special player. In the biggest games and the Super Bowls, he's been my target, the guy I've been throwing to," Brady said. ``I can't say enough good things about him. He knows how I feel about him. Like I said, when it's your quarterback and receiver, you're in meetings; I see him more than I see my friends, my parents, my girlfriend combined. That's not the way I like it, but that's the way it is, especially during football season."
Brady was asked if it's nearing the point where Branch's absence could deeply hurt the team.
``You'd love continuity, but at the same time I can only control playing quarterback," he said. ``God knows I do enough bad things out here that I try to correct. I have to worry about myself and getting Reche [Caldwell] on the same page, and when Deion gets here, I'm very confident he's going to get up to speed and you'll see him, and he'll be in great shape, and he'll look like the Deion that we've seen over the past four years."
Brady also touched on his absence from three straight practices earlier this week.
``You go through camp and sometimes, the thing about throwing the ball, whatever you do in the offseason, you can't duplicate the intensity of throwing the ball and trying to squeeze it between linebackers and throwing it 60 yards down the field," he said. ``When you do it for nine straight days, my arm would feel a lot better if I took some time off and rested. It helped."
Brady acknowledged he had doctors and trainers check his throwing arm to make sure everything was in working order. He's been slinging the ball with his trademark zip over the last three practices.
``I'm probably a lot like a baseball pitcher," he said. ``This is what my best asset is, my arm. It's certainly not my feet, it's about throwing the football and you have to take care of it. I spend much more time now than ever really making sure it feels good, doing things to prevent injury. If you can't throw the ball, you're worthless to this team."
In addition to his arm, Brady was wearing a brace on his left knee during yesterday's practice. He said his knee is fine and that the brace was for prevention.
``It's just trying to be a little more proactive and just trying to take care of yourself," Brady said. ``You see all these quarterbacks, their left knees get hurt -- Carson Palmer, Brian Griese -- the last thing you want to do is hurt your knee. I figure I'm slow enough as it is. This thing can't slow me down much more."
Brady was also asked about his concern regarding the team's unsettled roster, from the absence of Branch to the health of safety Rodney Harrison.
``I think it's part of football," Brady said. ``I think every team is going through it. We've been through it before and you try not to concern yourself with things that are out of your control. Certainly guys not being out here, what can you do about it? You work hard with the guys, and in a lot of ways it's opportunities for other players. It's opportunities for me to step up and try to work harder with other guys."