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Brady enjoying his work; Patriots wet Wednesday camp notes

Posted Aug 13, 2014

Tom Brady and the Patriots continued joint practices with the Eagles during a very wet Wednesday morning workout.

Tom Brady spent last week shredding the Washington defense in the hot, humid environment of joint practices in Richmond.

Things haven’t come quite so easy this week in joint work with the Eagles, and the weather even took a turn for the worse on Wednesday as heavy rains poured down throughout the morning practice.

But the moisture certainly didn’t put a damper on the work that Brady feels like he’s been getting done against Philadelphia.

“It’s just good to go up against really good competition. I think that’s what it’s been,” Brady said after the fun in the rain. “I think competition has been at its best, and I think it brings out the best in all of us. Those guys are competing hard, and so are we. We’ve made our fair share of plays. I think we’ve made plenty of mistakes to learn from. I think the whole goal is to come out here and get better and see where we’re at, measure yourself against another opponent, then we’ve got a day tomorrow with a little bit of time with them, and then we’re at it Friday night.”

After sitting out last Thursday’s preseason opener against the Redskins, Brady’s status for this Friday night’s affair with the Eagles at Gillette Stadium is uncertain. Regardless of how much time he gets in game action against the Eagles, Brady is more than happy with the practice atmosphere leading up to the exhibition contest.

“They’re great because you got a lot of really competitive work in,” Brady raved of joint workouts. “In a preseason game, I don’t get as many reps, so certainly a lot of situational stuff we did today is so valuable because even though you know, it’s great to review and great to go over and to remind yourself, so when the games actually count you feel like you’re a little bit ahead. We’ve just got to keep it going. I think we just try to, ‘Keep stringing them together,’ as coach always says.”

Focusing on the work at hand each day, Brady doesn’t worry about how much game action he’ll see on Friday night.

“As much as coach lets me. He makes those decisions,” Brady said. “I’ll be ready to play for as long as he wants me to. That’s very valuable playing experience for me, too. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been doing it, you’ve got to get out there and play under game situations and get your body going at the level that it needs to be at.”

He’ll also be trying to help his backups – fourth-year veteran Ryan Mallett and rookie second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo – prepare for the action they’ll see in the coming weeks.

“Whatever we do, whoever is out there has to go out there and execute because our team really counts on that,” Brady concluded. “If the quarterback doesn’t play well, then it will pretty much suck for everybody else, so we’ve got to go out there and do the best we can.”

Rain supreme

Given the space limitations with the Patriots Dana Farber Field-House indoor facility, and the fact that both New England and Philadelphia will clearly play weather games in the regular season, the two teams took Wednesday’s heavy rain as a positive training tool. Bill Belichick and Chip Kelly were more than happy to put their troops through what at times was essentially a carwash.

There were plenty of wet balls – Brady had one slip out the back of his hand when trying to make a throw at one point – and plenty of experience in what were certainly pretty adverse conditions.

“It was good,” Brady said of the rain. “It was kind of a New England-type day. We had a bunch of these last year, and really for the most part the weather has been great all camp. It’s good to get work in like this. Certainly against a playoff-caliber team it’s always good.”

It’s apparently good for the defensive players to get used to it as well.

“You never know what type of precipitation you’re going to get, especially with home games at Gillette Stadium,” Chandler Jones said. “It’s going to be snowing late in the season. You never know when it’s going to be raining or not. So feel like it’s a good idea for us to practice in the rain and get some good work in.”

“Like Bill says, whatever it is, it’s New England,” Duron Harmon added. “We have to play in it, so we have to practice in it.”

A LaFell of a receiver

Brady has been clearly working hard to build a rapport with first-year Patriots receiver Brandon LaFell. The quarterback has already talked about the size and catch radius the bigger veteran brings to the mix. Wednesday he excitedly praised LaFell after one particular catch as the two continue to build a solid working relationship.

“I’ve really enjoyed being with him. He’s added a lot,” Brady said of the former Panther. “He’s got a real love for the game, and he does a great job out there getting open. He just keeps making more plays. It’s really fun for a quarterback to see guys out there really working hard to make the improvements and then really do it, and hopefully it continues to carry over. It’s been a lot of fun to be with him. And Julian [Edelman] and Danny [Amendola] – [it’s the] same thing. KT [Kenbrell Thompkins] has been making a bunch of plays. All those guys who have been out there are great. The offensive line keeps building, and they’re really the strength of our team. I’ve got a lot of confidence in our group, but we’ve just got to go out and keep doing it, keep making improvements and learn from our mistakes, and then go out and execute when it matters.”

For his part, LaFell is just working to fit in where he can within Brady’s more familiar arsenal.

“He trusts those guys. So I know that those guys are going to get the ball,” LaFell said. “But I know that in the red zone you kind of need that bigger body. And I’m hoping I can be that guy.”

Stop, drop and role?

With the Patriots employing a lot of 3-4 fronts in practice action over the last few weeks, that’s meant some different looks for the guys on the end of the line of scrimmage. Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Jake Bequette and Michael Buchannan have all been working on dropping into coverage with varying degrees of success.

While many make a big deal about guys like Jones – who played primarily 4-3 end over his first two seasons in New England – having to drop into space, the player himself doesn’t seem fazed with the new challenge.

“Believe it or not, it’s very similar. That defensive end hybrid outside linebacker position is very similar,” Jones said. “I feel like we’re doing the same exact things, maybe in different stances to start off with.”

Coming off a season in which he led the Patriots with 11.5 sacks while playing nearly every defensive snap, Jones is having fun in the new role.

“I enjoy it. It shows a little versatility,” Jones said, relaying that he’s dabbled in pass coverage throughout his playing career all the way back to high school. “It all goes back to whatever coach Belichick tells me to play, that’s what I’m going to play.”

Stock Watch

Buy: Malcolm Butler – The undrafted rookie once again took reps with the top unit, seeing time in place of and opposite both Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner at various points. He also had a pass defense that led to a Patrick Chung interception.

Sell: Duron Harmon – The second-year safety was the presumed starter next to Devin McCourty heading into camp after a strong spring. But he’s been just one of a litany of bodies taking reps at that spot this summer and has done nothing to stand out. It’s starting to feel like returning veteran Patrick Chung is making a real run at the starting job.

Play of the Day: New England saved its best for last as Tom Brady hit Julian Edelman for a touchdown in the right side of the end zone on the final snap of 11-on-11 action in the workout. Edelman seemed to smartly use his body to lean back and box out Eagles defensive back Roc Carmichael for the score.

Quote of the Day: “The center-quarterback relationship is a pretty special one. I’ve got my hands on their butts probably more than their wives, so it’s a pretty unique trust and relationship you have.” – Tom Brady

Notes
There were 16 Patriots who did not take part in the wet workout. That included Tavon Wilson, Tyler Gaffney, Kanorris Davis, Justin Green (reportedly traded to Dallas), Terrence Miller, Cameron Gordon, D.J. Williams (leg), Michael Hoomanawanui (leg), Jerod Mayo, Ja’Gared Davis, James Anderson, Bryan Stork, Chris Martin (NFI/unknown), Jeremy Gallon (PUP/unknown), Chris Jones (ankle) and Sealver Siliga. … Wilson, both Davises, Anderson, Stork and Gallon were on the field in shorts. … Today’s celebratory visitors to Patriots practice were Major League Baseball Hall of Famer manager Tony La Russa, a longtime Belichick pal, and former A’s ace from the late 1980s Dave Stewart. … The crew of officials continued to work the joint practices and they continued to throw flags at an incredibly rapid rate. … Alfonzo Dennard took some more intense reps in team action as the cornerback works back to full health. … Zach Moore limped off at one point, but returned to take more reps later in practice. … Will Smith took some reps as a nose tackle, the only defensive lineman, in a dime package. … The Patriots and Eagles will hold a pre-game walk-through on Thursday. The session is closed to the public but open to the media.