Q: How does it feel on the first day to get back in the mix of things?**
TB: It feels great. I'm excited to be out here with my teammates and working to get better. It's a long training camp. I think we've got to string a lot of good days together to be the team that we want to be. It's just going to be a lot of effort, a lot of work. There's no easy way about it. You've just got to grind, put the work in, listen to the coaches, try to make improvements, and hopefully when we start the season we'll be a lot better of a team than we are now.
Q: Last year, you had a lot of guys out due to injury. What's it like to have Rob Gronkowski back and working him in slowly?
TB: The more guys we have out here healthy, the better we're going to be. Everyone is working with whatever situation they're in. You could be coming off injury, [or] you could be coming off a good offseason. Everyone is starting at the same place. It's the first opportunity to put shoulder pads on, and now the real physical aspect of the sport comes out. In the offseason, when it's just shorts and tee shirts and you're throwing the ball, it's about a quarter of the game. So we're going to see what we're made of, and we've got a lot of big tests ahead.
Q: How much more energy is there out there with Rob Gronkowski out there?
TB: We always try to bring it, regardless of who is out there. If he's not out there, then we still have to find a way to do it, and I think really that's a lesson that we've learned. You've got to try to win, no matter who is out there. You've got to try to compete at a high level. When you have great players like that that are on the field, it helps you a lot. Your margin of error goes up. But you've got to prepare for both. We've had different times over the offseason where certain guys have been in there, certain guys haven't, but I don't think the expectations have changed. You've still got to go out and execute the play the best way you know how to and try to do it at a high level on a consistent basis.
Q: Last year, you had a lot of new guys on offense. Are the expectations higher now that those guys have been through a year? Are some of the mistakes they made no longer acceptable?
TB: It's about making improvements, and I think it goes from the guys who are newest on the team to the guys who are oldest on the team. I don't think you ever have it all figured out. You try to come out here and you work hard to put yourself in a good position and to compete, and when you get a chance and you get your opportunity, you've got to go out and make it happen. It's really everybody. There's nobody that's immune to it. You've got to put the work in. You've got to give it everything you've got, and like I said, hopefully on a daily basis you continue to make improvements. This game is a very humbling game. You can't ever think that you've got it all figured out. You've got to go out there and prove it every single day.
Q: Is there a lot of work to do to get used to this year's offense as compared to other years? Are there a lot of changes?
TB: There is a lot of work. I don't think there is ever a day you can take off, especially with the limited amount of practices we have. You've got to make them all count. You have to make the walk-throughs count, you have to make the practices count, you have to make the meetings count, and each one of them becomes more valuable the longer you get into the camp because you have less of them. There is really not a play that's not important, or else we wouldn't be doing it. I think that's really a great point of emphasis that all the offensive coaches give us offensive players, that we can't be error repeaters. We can't make a mistake today, correct it and then come back and make it again tomorrow because then you're never going anywhere. You just tread water.
Q: Talk about the competition you're having with Darrelle Revis in practice and what it's like having him on your team.
TB: He's a great player. He challenges us, he challenges the receivers, and it's nice to go against someone like that. We've had great corners here in the past, but he's a great competitor. Having the chance to compete against him on another team, I certainly appreciate having him on our team.
Q: Can you believe this is your 15th training camp?
TB: It goes pretty fast, so I just think you appreciate it. There are very few people who have the opportunity that I have, and I'm very appreciative of it. You never know when the last one is going to be, so you just appreciate the moments that you have. Every year, it's something different. This could be your last training camp; you never know. So you've got to make it count, and you can't take anything for granted in the NFL. I try to do the best I can for this team and hope it leads to a great year.
Q: How excited do you get when Kenbrell Thompkins makes a couple great catches back-to-back like he did today at the end of practice?
TB: Yeah, he made some great plays. I think he's certainly capable of it. It's exciting for a quarterback when you see a guy make those types of efforts and lay out and catch the ball like he did. He's been doing that since he got here, and he's another guy who's put a lot of work in and fought really hard. It's fun to be out there with him. I have a lot of confidence in him, a lot of trust. He's a great guy. It's fun to be out there with him.
Q: What strides can Kenbrell make to help you in the passing game?
TB: He works his tail off, so I think that's one of his best attributes. There is nothing that has ever been given to him, so it's great to see a competitor like that. And when your guys make plays like that, it just elevates the rest of the team. Not every play are you going to be open by 10 yards. Sometimes you've got to lay out and make the play, and that's how you get to be a great offense. The plays that maybe are a bit unexpected – if you make those, then it just elevates your whole team.
Q: How have you evolved as a leader over your time here? I've noticed you being vocal with a lot of guys during OTAs and here at practice.
TB: Communication is a really important part of the quarterback position. It's how you communicate, and hopefully I can bring real positive leadership and energy to the team. If the quarterback won't do it, then who else will? That's kind of how I've always looked at it. It's fun to be in this position. I don't ever take it for granted. I appreciate the opportunities that I get. It's a great group of guys most importantly. It's the guys who really want to work hard and put the time in and have really made so much improvement over the time that they've been here. So you look at a guy like Julian [Edelman], who just continues to get better, and he's another guy who has really fought his whole career. I'm proud of him and him coming back and getting another opportunity to work with him.