The start of training camp always puts a spring in Tom Brady's step, but this particular version may be offering a bonus.
Not only is he returning for his first official work with his team, but Brady also is getting set to find out what life will be like throwing to Chad Ochocinco. Bill Belichick wasn't willing to offer much detail on the pending acquisition of the Bengals flamboyant wideout, choosing to wait until the deal was finalized, but Brady expressed excitement over the prospect of adding another talented weapon to the offense.
"I've known Chad for a long time," Brady said. "I've watched him for a long time. He brings a lot of energy to the team, and we're looking forward to everyone being out here and trying to get better. Trying to see what we can make of this year.
"He has been a very prolific receiver; I think he's had a bunch of production over the years. Hopefully he can come in here and find a role on this team, like we're all trying to do. We're all trying to come out here and see what we can make of this year, see what kind of role we can make for ourselves."
Brady chatted with Ochocinco prior to the team's morning walkthrough, which the wideout did not participate in. Wearing a plain blue shirt (without his trademark 85), Ochocinco spent time with offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien as well, then retreated to the Dana Farber Field House with rookie quarterback Ryan Mallett after the session was complete.
"This is the first time I've had a chance to be with him on the field," Brady said. "I know he's excited, I talked to him earlier, he's excited to be out here. I think he's excited to be a part of a new team. Like I said, everyone's really searching for a role for themselves, we're all trying to establish a role for ourselves, Chad, myself, Wes [Welker], Deion [Branch], and all of us are trying to figure out what we can do to help this team win."
After acquiring Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth, a pair of players who have at times been accused of not always putting the team first, the Patriots fielded several questions regarding the importance of keeping everyone in line. Brady explained the process is much simpler than most think.
"I think coach Belichick sets an expectation for everybody, and he doesn't treat me any better than he treats a rookie who's coming out here for his second day of practice," Brady said. "I think he has expectations that every time we walk in the door, he has four things listed. Every time we walk out, he has four things listed. The most important one is doing our job. So when I come in, it's actually pretty easy. I follow the game plan that he puts up there.
"I think for each guy that comes in, they have to do the same thing. It's not 'Hey, Tom's got a different set of rules and Wes has a different set of rules.' Everyone has the same set of rules. Look, I try to be a good leader and a good example on this team, just like everyone else does. I look at [it as] coach Belichick's the coach, and we have great coaches, and he expects us to come out and play and worry about ourselves."
Brady said the fact that Belichick has no special rules for anyone is a major reason for the team's success.
"I love it," said Brady of the philosophy of treating everyone the same. "That's what makes him such a great coach, is that he has enough credibility with all the guys that when he says something, it pretty much comes true. I think he's been around for quite a while and that he knows how to get the team all on the same page and doing the right thing. "
As for the team as a whole, Brady said he was excited and anxious to get back to work. He said he felt great physically after undergoing offseason foot surgery but acknowledged the catch-up mode New England and the rest of the NFL are in. The strange offseason impacted the preparation time he and his teammates normally relish, so generating the timing that is vital to the offense will be a difficult chore.
"We're trying to focus on what we can really control," Brady said. "I know there's been a lot of new rules put into place. Everyone's really trying to get used to the rules and come out here and have good practices. For the time that we're out here, we ran a lot of plays yesterday, we're going to run a lot of plays today, a lot of plays tomorrow. We're use going to try to come out here and execute them, learn form them and go in there and make the corrections, and come out so we can be a better football team [at] the end of the day than we were at the start of it.
"It's just the way it is, we can't change it. I don't worry about it. I just know that when we go out there for the games we're going to be prepared. We're going to feel good about every play on that call sheet, we're going to feel good about every player on that team. If guys weren't good players and didn't know what they were doing, Coach would never put them out there. When I'm out there playing quarterback and I look around I feel good about every guy that we have, I feel good about every play that we're going to call. I don't think about it any differently than I always have."