Head coach Bill Belichicknormally doesn't hold a press conference on Thursdays. So, Friday's briefing was the first opportunity for him to comment publicly on the surreal events that his quarterback, Tom Brady, experienced yesterday – a day that started with a car accident and ended with (reportedly) the signing of a lucrative contract extension.
Various media reports indicated that Brady had inked a four-year extension, beginning next season, with a total value of $72 million, with $48.5 million of it guaranteed.
The latter topic came up first. A reporter asked if there were any overnight transactions to report.
"No," Belichick replied.
"No contract for Brady?" came the follow-up.
"Oh, yeah," Belichick said, drawing laughs from the assembled media. "I was thinking about player transactions. Look, there's no quarterback I'd rather have than Tom Brady. He does a great job for us in all phases of the game. I think right now, Tom, myself and all the rest of us are trying to get ready for Cincinnati."
The head coach was later asked about his relationship with the franchise quarterback and how it has evolved over the past decade.
"I think any relationship is a work in progress," he responded. "You always have to keep working at it. It started in 2000 and has been continuing ever since. Tom came in as a rookie. He had a certain role on the team. I think he preformed that role well. He improved a lot. Things changed. There were a lot of dynamics that changed in 2001. We all know what those were."
Belichick was, of course, referring to the sudden death of then-QB coach Dick Rehbeinat the very beginning of that season, and the culmination of winning the Super Bowl at the end of it.
"It continues to evolve," Belichick continued on his relationship with Brady. "It's different this year than it was last year. It was different last year than it was the year before. It was different the year before than the year before that. Sometimes it changes from week to week. Relationships just continue to evolve and grow.
"Our goals are the same and I think, generally speaking, we have a similar way of approaching [and] achieving those goals. I think that works well together. I certainly enjoy that. In my association with Tom, those things that he brings, I believe in. And I think he believes in some of the things that I believe in, so that helps."
With regard to Brady's two-vehicle accident Thursday, in which he was unharmed, Belichick was asked if he was worried about his quarterback's condition.
He offered this observation.
"I'm worried about Cincinnati," which elicited gasps of surprise from some in attendance, before Belichick quickly added, "I always worry about the health of our team. There's nothing more important than the health of our team. Without players, you don't have a team, so of course that is important."
Brady was also among the four team captains elected by the Patriots this week, joining running back Kevin Faulk, nose tackle Vince Wilfork, and linebacker Jerod Mayo. There will be no special teams captain this year, Belichick said, because all four players represent the entire team.
That represents a departure from the past, when former linebacker Larry Izzo and, more recently, former wide receiver Sam Aiken, were the designated voices and leaders of the special teams units.
"Everything is a little bit different. It's never exactly the same. Even if it looks like it's the same, it's always different because there are different people, different dynamics, different chemistry, just different," Belichick explained.
"So, each year is different and certain things have to get done on your team or in your coaching staff or on your management team or whatever it is. You find a way to get those things done collectively, however it is broken up. And even if it is the same as it was the year before, it's always different because the dynamics are always different. It changes."
Brady briefly appeared in the locker room after practice, when the media were allowed in, but as reporters and photographers approached, Brady politely, and understandably, declined. The QB normally fields questions on Wednesdays and after games.
Faulk, a captain for just the second time in his 12-year career, also turned down the opportunity to speak to reporters about his latest honor. Wilfork was not seen, leaving only Mayo to comment.
"I feel good. To be voted on by your peers is always a good feeling," said Mayo, who added that his approach, as always is to "lead by example."
Chung and the restless
On Sunday versus the Bengals, second-year safety Patrick Chungappears poised to start in the Patriots secondary, a defensive backfield featuring second-year corner Darius Butlerand rookie Devin McCourty, with fourth-year veteran Brandon Meriweatherat the other safety spot. The young group is going to face a pair of seasoned veteran receivers in Chad Ochocincoand Terrell Owens.
Is he nervous or excited about the opportunity for his relatively green group?
"Can't think about that," Chung insisted. "I mean, they're great players. And you better bring your A-game, because they're going to bring theirs.
"We just have to execute, work together like we've been on the field for years. Starter, backup … anything, you have to be ready to play and you have to know what you're doing and what your opponent is doing, what their strengths and weaknesses are, regardless of whether you're a starter or not."
Fri 9/10 Practice Notebook
For news and notes from Friday's practice, please visit the PFW Blog.