In the span of a little more than a week, Tom Brady aged almost 20 years. Funny how the rigors of training camp can affect the body.
When the Patriots quarterback last spoke to the media, he jokingly suggested he felt like a 22-year-old rookie rather than a grizzled veteran about to turn 30. Of course that was just three days into camp. Now he's singing a different tune.
"Feels more like 49 right now. Everything's sore," Brady said with a smile. "It's a little different schedule this year too with the two practices one day, then one and then two, which is pretty good for the players because it gives your body a little time to rest. But we've practiced for 12 straight days so I think my arm after 12 straight days was calling out for a break. So I'm glad we've got that. I'm definitely 30 now, but 30 is a nice birthday."
Brady didn't get much rest after the team's lone off day of camp on Saturday. He was back it Sunday evening for a walkthrough and he and the offense went to work in earnest Monday morning inside the confines of Gillette Stadium.
As has been the case of late, Bill Belichick emphasized situational work in the practice and Brady and the passing game got more than their share of attention. First downs, third downs, red area, goal line, screens, draws, Hail Marys and every other conceivable situation was covered. By nature of the scripted work it was difficult to generate much rhythm, and Brady felt his performance was a bit choppy.
"Like I said last week, there's plenty of good and there's plenty of bad," Brady said. "We did a lot of situational work this morning and I wish we executed better in some of them this morning. I know it's something Coach Belichick stresses for us. We got some good work in today and I'm sure it will come up this Friday."
Rather than having Belichick holler out a situation, being inside the stadium allowed the players to know simply by glancing at the scoreboard. One play might be third-and-three from the 12, followed by first-and-goal at the 6, regardless of the result of the previous play.
One sequence worth noting was a bomb from Brady toReche Caldwell down the left sideline. Caldwell ran past Ellis Hobbs on the play and Eugene Wilson was a bit late with his help over the top. It's possible Wilson could have broken up the play under live game conditions, and at the very least he would have made Caldwell pay for making the catch. But Caldwell showed a nice burst going after the ball and despite being overshadowed by the newcomers at receiver he looks like he's not ready to surrender his playing time just yet.
Brady did have one of his weapons back at his disposal on Monday asDonte' Stallworth was ready for full-time action for the first time in camp. Stallworth didn't do much during the two-hour workout but the sight of him in full pads was a welcome one, especially as Brady continues to work at getting used to his new toys.
"I think it's really a work in progress," Brady said. "I think there's some things we're doing better. I was happy, even thoughRandy [Moss] got hurt on the play, that I overthrew him for the first time in four months. You realize that you can really put the ball out there for him because he just tracks it down so easy.
"With Donte', the work we put in the spring he adds a different element to what we do. Wes [Welker] is so quick in the slot. We're just trying to find a role for those guys and trying to incorporate what they do well into our offense. Hopefully, that makes us more of a threat. We can run the ball. We can play-action pass. We can do a variety of things."
The Patriots tried to do a lot of those Monday morning and Brady, as will be the case all season, was the triggerman. With all the new targets he'll have to choose from, getting him acclimated at this point in the summer, rather than during the season like last year, could make the Patriots offense a very dangerous unit in 2007.