As he finished up a week of preparations for Sunday night’s trip to Detroit to take on the Lions, Tom Brady is also in the midst of his first few days working with new Patriots wide receiver addition Josh Gordon.
It’s not surprising that a number of the questions Brady fielded from the gathered media in his Friday afternoon press conference at Gillette Stadium revolved around the former Browns All-Pro pass-catcher.
“Really been eager to get in there and learn everything we’re doing,” Brady said of his first impressions of Gordon. “He’s just trying to acclimate himself to what the program is.”
Gordon has been limited in practice this week due to a hamstring injury, but Brady acknowledged that he’s had the chances to throw passes to his newest target.
So, how did Gordon look catching those balls?
“Like an NFL receiver looks,” Brady said. “We’re working at it. He’s been here a few days. We’re working at it every day. Every day you try to make improvements. Everyone is out there working hard, doing whatever they need to do to understand the playbook, to understand routes, understand how we do things. We just try and work at it.”
Despite the big deal made by many of the fact that Gordon was given a locker stall directly next to Brady’s in the Gillette locker room, the quarterback downplayed the significance. In fact he said, “Coach decides a lot of those things. So, you just kind of show up and those things happen.”
His goal is to build a rapport and relationship with players regardless of where they dress.
“I try to get along with everybody. Even if you are next to me or you’re across or down or defense, it’s just important to try to get to know everybody in whatever way you possibly can,” Brady explained of his leadership role. “We’re all here to try to do the same thing. So, yeah, whether they are right next to you, or across or on your side of the ball, just having a relationship with those guys in important.”
Beyond Brady’s initial thoughts on Gordon, here are a few other takeaways from his weekly press conference:
Could Gordon debut in Detroit?: Gordon arrived in Foxborough earlier this week and has been working to learn as much as possible regarding his new offense and his role within it. Earlier on Friday, Bill Belichick called Gordon a “smart kid” who’s “worked hard” this week. Given that the Patriots have just three other healthy, active receivers it would seem that the possibility exists for Gordon to dress and debut against the Lions. If so, that would likely be for a small package of plays that everyone involved is comfortable with.
“I think if they’re in there it’s up to the coaches to decide those things. I don’t think anyone is going to put anyone out there if they don’t know what they’re doing,” Brady said. “If they don’t know what to do on a play. Now, you could limit the number of plays and try to do that. I think we’ve done that plenty of times. Any time you get new players that’s what you try to do.”
Rob Gronkowski “has such a big impact on our team”: All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski was added to the Patriots injury report on Thursday, listed as limited in practice due to an ankle injury. Not only does the injury add a layer of concern for the tight end’s ability to contribute against the Lions, but it comes after Gronkowski was held in relative check with just two catches for 15 yards in the loss at Jacksonville.
Asked about Gronkowski’s status and importance to the offense, Brady made his feelings quite clear.
“I think anytime Rob’s out there playing hard it’s such a big impact on our team,” Brady declared. “When he’s not out there particular plays, it’s different. He’s one of the best players we have and he has to play like it. We all have to play like it if we want to be productive. Obviously the best players have to play well and then everyone else in their role has to play well too. That’s what we’re counting on.”
Familiar Matt-chup: Brady spent 14 years on the same team with first-year Lions head coach Matt Patricia. He had some pretty vocal practice field battles with the then-Patriots assistant and his defense. Now, the familiarity between the quarterback and defensive-minded coach will be a factor in Sunday night’s prime time battle in Detroit.
“He knows us pretty good. We obviously know that defense,” Brady said of a Lions unit that’s given up a total of 78 points in two losses to open the season. “We practiced against it for a long time. It will come down to execution. I think he’s a great coach. He’ll have those guys ready to play. They’ll scheme up a bunch of different things to keep us off balance. We saw that for a long period of time.”
As such Brady and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will have a few things up their sleeve for Patricia, some game plan wrinkles he may not be expecting.
“I think so. Yeah. I think we always try to do that from week to week and try to figure out some advantage. But it’s going to come down to how well we execute,” Brady concluded.