Brady listens to pitches from House
FOXBOROUGH — Maybe it was purely coincidental, but after a couple of days of looking a little less sharp than he had looked in the opening days of training camp, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had his new throwing coach on hand to help work on mechanics Monday after practice.
Brady has begun training with Tom House, a former major league pitcher and now a coach who also has worked with the Saints’Drew Brees and the Raiders’Carson Palmer.
House, Brady, and Brian Hoyer worked together on a back portion of a practice field after Monday morning’s camp session.
Brady’s longtime mentor, Tom Martinez, died in February; he had been Brady’s passing guru for nearly 20 years. Brady always would seek face-to-face time with Martinez when he was a little off, and he immediately would return to form.
While it might seem like a former pitcher would be an odd choice as a passing coach, Hoyer, a former high school pitcher, can see the similarities.
“In football you want to have a quicker release point but in baseball you have no one rushing you,” Hoyer said. “There are definitely things that I think have helped: stride, rotation, things like that.”
House’s methods must be effective, as Brees is the only quarterback in NFL history with two 5,000-yard seasons.
It appeared that House was working with Brady on not letting his torso get too far in front of his feet as he was throwing.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, it is the same Tom House who caught Hank Aaron’s 715th home run in 1974, when both were members of the Braves.
Aaron’s blast landed in the Braves’ bullpen, where House caught it on the fly. House pitched for the Red Sox in 1976 and 1977.
As happens every year, a group of officials are in camp, starting Monday.
But unlike other years, the group is made up of replacement refs — the usual officials are locked out by the NFL in a contract dispute.
There was a good deal of criticism of the officials in the Hall of Fame game on Sunday night. It was tough to tell if there were any real issues in camp Monday.
Regular refs or replacements, director of player personnel Nick Caserio outlined the positives of having refs on hand.
“I think it’s good for everybody,” he said. “Maybe in practice if you’re going through it from a coaching perspective you might not see something that happens, maybe a flinch or something like that, so the official is there to call the fouls, whatever they may be.
“We encourage them to treat it as if it’s a game situation, whether it’s holding, hand placement, flinching, illegal contact — you know, that’s one of the things, especially for the defensive backs, or maybe you have some rookie defensive backs who have an understanding of the 5-yard rule and how it’s different relative to what it was in college.
“There’s always a benefit to having another set of eyes that you can talk about the rule, ‘Here’s what went wrong, here’s how we can change it, here’s how we can correct it and move forward.’ ”
There will be replacement refs for the Patriots’ exhibition opener against New Orleans Thursday night as well.
Also on Thursday night, a woman will debut as an NFL official. Shannon Eastin, who has worked in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference for the last four years and has been an official for 16 years, will be the line judge for the Packers-Chargers game.
The Saints flew right to the Boston area from Ohio, where they played in the Hall of Fame game. Brees tweeted a photo from his hotel window of the sun rising as the players were settling into their rooms after the night of traveling. On Monday afternoon, New Orleans was on the Gillette Stadium field for a light practice in shorts and T-shirts . . . Caserio was asked if there is a timetable for the return of guard Logan Mankins, who is rehabbing a torn ACL suffered in the Super Bowl. “We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “Those guys that come in, they do their treatment every day and then whenever they’re ready, the trainers will let us know and then we’ll deal with it at the time.” . . . Monday was time for one of the Patriots’ rookie rituals: the first-year players had to slide through a mud pit in the back corner of the field while Vince Wilfork sprayed them with a hose. First-year coaches Joe Judge, the special-teams assistant, Stephen Belichick, and new team nutritionist Ted Harper also took part.