FOXBOROUGH — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said he’s feeling good, but he’s nowhere near where he needs to be for the start of the NFL season in September.
Brady spoke to the media after Wednesday’s outdoor minicamp practice at a rainy Gillette Stadium.
“It’s been a lot of fun being back on the field, having a chance to work with a lot of the new guys,” Brady said. “Some of those guys we’ve worked with, there’s a lot of familiarity with Donte’ [Stallworth] and Jabbar [Gaffney] with the stuff they’ve already done our offense so, it’s been good.”
Brady indicated that he’s not ready for prime time football just yet.
“I got a long way to go, I got a long way to go,” Brady said. “I’m nowhere near where I want to be, or I need to be.”
Brady talked about how his preparation for the season has changed over the years as he’s grown older.
“I think you really refine what you do over the course of years because you realize what works for you and what you need to do to be prepared for the football season,” he said. “I think there’s some things that you do when you’re younger that I haven’t necessarily done in a while because I don’t think it really correlates well to being a better football player.
“Ultimately we’re trying to be the best football player we can be not necessarily the best weight lifter, or the best sprinter, you need to be the best football player.”
Brady said he hasn’t done anything differently in terms of training this offseason, but indicated that’s it’s easier to eat healthier than it was when he was younger.
“Every year it seems to be a little different,” Brady said. “I’m always looking for little ways to improve and I certainly eat healthier, which is actually easier to do now than it used to be when I was young. I eat pretty good.
Although Brady seemed to look slimmer — maybe it’s the latest haircut — he said he’s in the same shape as he always is.
“I feel really good, I feel great,” he said after weighing in at 228 pounds today. “I’m right about where I always am to tell you the truth.”
Even though he has more responsibilities and outside interests, Brady said playing football is still No. 1 for him.
“It’s the best job in the world as far as I’m concerned,” Brady said. “I don’t think there’s anything I’d rather do. I probably have more fun out there now then I’ve ever had out there, just because you don’t take a day for granted. You get a chance to go out there and play football and you look forward to those moments of competition. I don’t enjoy boredom and this is certainly not boring. I love coming out here every day and working with this team.”
More from Brady’s Q&A today:
Q: Do you feel like you’re where you need to be with the team, having just one practice left in minicamp?
Brady: Yeah, you know we’ve done a lot of installation and stuff. There’s been a lot of stuff thrown at the players, some mentally. Probably more than our level of comfort, but it’s nice for everyone to hear things and cover everything and then at least you’ve heard it once we get to training camp. There’s been a lot of installation every day and I think coach has really kept the pressure on us to see how much we’re retaining from week to week. Guys have worked hard at it and it’s been a lot of fun.
Q: Obviously you had a successful year last year, but how much further ahead and much more comfortable do you feel now having the OTAs and having minicamp this year as opposed to last year?
Brady: Yeah, it’s been a different offseason than last year, but a lot of guys have adapted and we pretty much have everyone out there. You can really see what kind of team you’re going to be, see the level of competition, the level of focus and the level of concentration, especially on wet, rainy days. We’re moving from situation to situation – there’s been a lot of red area work, right into third-down work, backed up [situations], plus-50 work – so we’ve really had to focus our minds and be ready to shift and adapt over the course of practice to try to simulate what we do in a game. It’s been a lot.
Q: What kind of message do you try to deliver to these guys on Tuesday when you’re starting out and then even more importantly Thursday when you’re about to do all this work, amp it up and then shut it down?
Brady: I think it just lets everybody know where they’re at and what they need to do over the next five weeks. If you feel like you’re not real comfortable with everything we’re doing, then you know you’ve got to put a lot of time in your playbook. If you feel like you’re conditioning needs to be better, that’s what you need to do; your strength, that’s what you need to do; your speed, that’s what you need to do. You can feel pretty comfortable with where you’re at based on how it looks out there, but no one is ready to play a game yet, I can assure you of that. We’ve got a lot of work left before we’re ready for that.
Q: Is there ever any trepidation about guys understanding that these four or five weeks between now and training camp is not really vacation time?
TB: I mean hopefully not, hopefully we don’t look at it like that. We’re in full preparation mode. This is the point where things really start getting ramped up. There’s no breaks, we had our vacation, we had a lot of time off and now it’s time to really focus in on what we need to do because we’re going to blink and the first game is going to be here. You’ve got about five weeks and everyone should use it really wisely. Get in better shape, get in better football shape and have a better understanding of what we’re doing so that we can go out there and when training camp starts you can really get off to a great start in training camp.
Q: Were you excited to see Rob Gronkowski got an extension and know that he’s probably going to be here as long as you’re going to be here?
Brady: Yeah, I mean it’s always good to have good players on this team. Rob’s worked really hard, so I think everyone’s happy for him. He certainly deserves it and he’s had two great seasons and hopefully has a great season this year.
Q: What do you tend to focus on during this five week period? You mentioned some of the things that different guys might work on, but what about you? What do you spend your time focusing on?
Brady: It’s a lot of football activity and I think at this point your conditioning and your strength is where it’s at. For me it’s a lot of drops, a lot of throws and working on footwork and being better mechanically. That’s all you can really work on when we don’t have any practices. I love to work on my technique and my mechanics, so it actually gives me a lot of time to focus on that.
Q: How are you adjusting [without mentor Tom Martinez around]?
Brady: I had a great level of comfort with Tom over the years and he was always someone I could call on to rely on him, but I know he’s watching down with every throw and I hear his voice in the back of my head after every throw. Throwing the football is about mechanics. There’s nothing special, it’s just a matter of doing it the right way and the better mechanically you are, the more accurate you’re going to be able to throw the football. When you’re not accurate, there’s a reason for it. It’s not like, ‘Hey, you just have to throw the ball more accurately.’ There’s a reason, what are you doing? So I’m constantly evaluating every throw. I watch every throw in practice, every rep that I take in practice I have someone film and I watch it after practice. I just make sure that I’m continuing to work on the right things because ultimately when you’re under pressure, your body is going to revert to what it knows. Muscle memory is a very important thing for a quarterback and hopefully you train your muscles to react the way you need them to react when the pressure is on the most. That allows you to throw the ball with velocity and accuracy and the tougher the games get, the closer the coverage is and the more accurate you need to be.
Q: Have you thought about what you’ll do if you go into a slump where you feel like your mechanics are a little off during the regular season? I’m sure normally you would talk to Tom Martinez about that.
Brady: I’ve got to rely on what he’s taught me over the years. I’ve got a lot of stuff written down, of things that we talked about and things that I’ve learned. I have a great understanding mechanically of what I need to be able to do, it’s just a matter of seeing it and being able to correct it. Hopefully you can correct it between series sometimes because you don’t always have the fortune to wait until Monday to figure things out – sometimes you have to figure them out in the middle of the third quarter. That’s something where I’ll have to rely on everything he’s taught me over the years.
Q: With DeMaurice Smith and George Atallah in the building [today] and now that Matt Light’s retired, do you have any interest in taking on more responsibility with the NFLPA, possibly as a player representative?
Brady: No, I think I really enjoyed my opportunity to be a part of it. We’ve obviously had a lot of issues come up over the last few years and I think the players are very comfortable with the leadership we have and all of the player reps take it very seriously. It’s a different side of the game and a very important side of the game that the players are involved in, but I’ve been very fortunate to see kind of the inner workings over the last few years and I’ve really enjoyed it.
Q: What are your thoughts on Chad Ochocinco’s release and why things didn’t work out?
Brady: There’s always a lot of player movement. I loved being with Chad, he’s a good friend and a great competitor and I enjoyed my chance with him and my opportunity to play with him, but I don’t make any personnel decisions and as a player you’ve just got to deal with what happens and try to be the best quarterback I can be.
Q: In terms of the receivers you’re throwing to, some of these guys you’ve thrown to forever, like Deion Branch and Wes Welker. Brandon Lloyd is a new one. Does he remind you of anyone and what are your first impressions?
TB: He’s got a unique skill set so it’s going to take some time to get used to things that he does really well. We haven’t had anyone quite like him, so just to understand where he likes the ball placed and how he gets open. He’s a very good player, so we’ve got a lot of work ahead in training camp and we’re going to have to use every single practice and every rep really wisely, because he can be a big part of this offense if we can really get up to speed.
Q: What’s the one thing he might bring that a lot of other guys haven’t? It seems like he can make a lot of plays on the ball when it’s in the air?
Brady: Yeah he does, he’s got great ball skills and great body control. If you get it near him, he’s going to catch it. It’s just a matter of sometimes it doesn’t look like he’s really open and then boom, he springs open on you. So sometimes you think, ‘Oh he’s covered,’ and then you get off him and then you watch the film and you’re like, ‘How did he get open?’ He knows what he’s doing to set the guys up and he makes the move and you have to trust that he’s going to beat the guy and he does. It’s just really a matter of, don’t really let your eyes take away from what he’s doing in his route, because ultimately he’s going to get open at some point.