Tom Brady had relatively quiet training camp practices leading up to sitting out the preseason opener against the Redskins with a reported "sore back."
Less than a week later, though, Brady has ramped up his practice reps and told the media after Tuesday afternoon's training camp workout that he's planning on playing in Thursday night's preseason battle with the Eagles at Gillette Stadium.
"Yup. I mean I think the plan is always to play. Whether I do or don't is up to the coach. But yeah, I certainly plan on being out there," Brady said after the final public practice of the summer.
Upon completing some extra work at the completion of the session, Brady was asked in his first media session in more than two weeks how he's feeling.
"I feel good. Thank you. I feel really good," Brady said, flashing his trademark smile.
Brady and the passing attack were significantly more efficient a day after a damp and dismal workout that was hampered by dropped passes and incompletions. At one point on Monday, Brady actually punted a ball into the crowd in an apparent display of frustration.
"I think I'm generally frustrated. That's a very…generally frustrated would be a very typical term for me out here," Brady said of his boot a day earlier. "I think there is a lot to do and a lot to get done. Hopefully we can have the urgency. I think you're just trying to – every drill's got to get something out of it and you got to build toward something because the competition's tough and they're building and you got to keep the pace."
"That was one of my better kicks," he added with a smile.
It wouldn't have been a Brady press conference without the 41-year-old passer being asked about his longevity and future playing plans, a topic that's been fueled of late with his recent contract restructure as well as a decision to wear a newer model helmet on the practice field in recent days.
"This year is the one I'm focused on. And obviously I want to play for a long time. I've said that for a while, I feel like I'm a broken record," Brady said. "It's really this year is the focus. This team needs a great quarterback and hopefully I can go out and be that."
Part of the work to accomplish that goal is transitioning to the game field against Philadelphia, an August measuring stick that's magnified a bit by the lack of joint practice sessions for the Patriots this summer.
"Sometimes when you practice against another opponent it actually gives you a pretty good idea of where you are at. Because we've been going against each other for a while we just haven't had that chance. We had a game to show it. We have a big one against the Eagles. Trying to put a lot into it and see if we can get a lot out of it," Brady said of the preseason reps.
"They are important. It's good work. I said earlier it's always, whether it's walk-through, practice, game, it all matters. Because I think if it was a waste of time we wouldn't do. I think there is a lot of urgency. We're not where we need to be. We have a lot of work to do. These practices are a part of it. The opportunities that we get in the game, when everything is full, live, the quarterback is getting hit, that provides a little different element. It's good to get out there. It's good to be out here practicing, we have to try to put together a great performance on Thursday."
Another part of that work is the extra reps Brady so often puts in after practices, including Tuesday's.
"Having the stamina to do whatever it takes is the best trait you could have," Brady said of any message the work might send to young players who see it. "I think you either get the job done or you don't. It's very clear to see when you do and it's very clear to see when you don't. There is a scoreboard at the end of each field and you get to see what the score is at the end. You gotta do whatever it takes to get the job done."
Oh, and that fancy new helmet that Brady's worn the last three days rather than the old-school headwear he's had since the beginning of his career?
"Our equipment manager, Brenden [Murphy], has been begging me to try it," Brady said looking down at the headpiece. "I've been very resistant. But it's been pretty sweet. I kinda like it."
By league rule Brady is only allowed to wear his customary aging helmet for one more season, though he's not quite ready to commit to the new one.
"I don't know. The facemask isn't quite right. I'm working on that, trying it out."
Dorsett limps off
Phillip Dorsett is in his second season in New England, though after arriving via trade last September he's in the midst of his first training camp at Gillette Stadium. Given the personnel changes at the receiver position and Julian Edelman's four-game suspension to open the season, the speedster has been very much in the mix for an expanded role heading into 2018.
Late Thursday afternoon, though, Dorsett seemed to slip on a route over the middle and remained on the ground. He was attended to by a member of the training staff for a few minutes while the team drill was held up before limping off to the medical tent at the far end of the field.
When he emerged from the tent, teammates and even New England director of player personnel Nick Caserio visited with Dorsett as he sat on a Gatorade jug. A short time later Dorsett put his helmet on and caught a few passes from a ball boy, seemingly standing a bit gingerly. Dorsett eventually walked off the field at the end of practice under his own power.
"You never like to see it," Brady said of Dorsett's injury. "I think everyone wanted to go over and see how he was doing because he's been doing so well in the spring and in training camp. Hopefully he's OK. I certainly hope he is. He's got a great opportunity ahead of him. I hope he takes advantage of it."
Bruins stop by
Four members of the Boston Bruins stopped by the final training camp practice. Ryan Donato, Matt Grzelcyk, Charlie McAvoy and Chris Wagner watched the bulk of the workout from the VIP bleachers at the end of the field before going onto the field near the end of the session. The hockey stars spent some time chatting with tight end Rob Gronkowski after practice concluded.
Keionta Davis – The second-year defensive end got a lot of high-level reps on the defensive line on Tuesday afternoon. After spending his entire rookie season on NFI, the big (6-4, 280-pound) Tennessee-Chattanooga product may be in the mix for a possible roster spot and reserve role on the defensive line. During one rep he even sniffed out a misdirection screen pass to James White, forcing Brady to throw the ball into the ground.
Corey Bojorquez – The undrafted rookie punter's theme song this summer should be "All by myself." The strong-legged lefty spent most of the afternoon on the side field punting by himself, even needing police officers and security personnel to throw the balls back to him on occasion. The supposed competition with Ryan Allen hasn't really developed as Bojorquez never got to punt in the preseason opener and rarely gets reps in team punt work, with all of those going to Allen on Tuesday. Allen also held for all of Stephen Gostkowski's field goals.
Play of the Day
Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer completed a nice back-shoulder ball to rookie receiver Braxton Berrios down the left side. The sixth-round pick came back and made a nice adjustment on the ball to haul it in as he fell to the ground, beating Cyrus Jones for the completion.
Players not see on the field included Matthew Slater, Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, Harvey Langi and Marcus Cannon. … Players seen on the lower rehab field included Ryan Lewis, Duke Dawson, Kenny Britt and Trey Flowers. … Beyond Dorsett's leg injury, tight end Dwayne Allen failed to finish the workout due to what appeared to be some sort of pain in his side/lower back area. … A day after seeing limited reps, running back Jeremy Hill was on the field in full pads. He didn't get a ton of carries for the offense, but did take part in kickoff return work. … Julian Edelman was also seemingly no worse for the wear after flexing his surgically-repaired right leg/knee a bit late in Monday's workout. … Undrafted rookie defensive lineman Trent Harris left practice early and did not return. … Jason McCourty took reps at cornerback opposite Stephon Gilmore at times and with the next group in drills at other times. … The workout was the last training camp practice scheduled to be open to the public or media. New England will practice on Wednesday in preparation for Thursday night's preseason game, but the workout is closed.