FOXBORO — Tom Brady is going to turn old soon.
FOXBORO — Tom Brady is going to turn old soon.
With his 30th birthday looming on Friday, the Patriots quarterback is trying to get his offense in working order while he's still young. The way things are going, he may sooner plucking gray hairs from his well-coiffed head.
"I think everybody would like us to be a little further along right now," Brady said after Sunday morning's practice at Pats training camp. "But we're trying to incorporate a lot of new things and (we're) trying to build an identity for this team, this offense. I think the team works hard, which is encouraging. So if we just string a bunch of good practices together, I think in a few weeks when we're ready to play, it will turn out pretty good."
Head coach Bill Belichick, who is considerably older than Brady, doesn't appear ready to wait. When the offense didn't run plays correctly on Sunday, the coach made his players run laps instead. Then he reportedly gave his vaunted O a royal tongue-lashing behind closed doors.
The message: It's time to get your act together.
Publicly, Belichick said the offense is making progress from its work in the no-pads spring passing camp to the full-contact preseason.
"We have a long way to go," Belichick said, "but it's good to pick it up out here and get the pads on and give a little more jam on the receivers and have to work through the timing, the re-route situation a little bit. They're working hard at it. It's better today than it was yesterday and hopefully it'll be better tomorrow."
With temperatures soaring past 90 degrees, fans soaking up rays on the practice field's aluminum bleachers got a kick out of watching the offense run punitive laps. Whether it was enthusiasm or heat-induced dementia, the crowd cheered on the offense during a punishment that wasn't worth the praise, Brady said.
"When we run out in practice and when we run laps (because) we're getting in trouble, we get cheered for that," Brady said. "So I don't know if they know why we're running. I don't think they'd be cheering us if they did."
For the second straight year, Brady finds himself trying to incorporate a new set of receivers. It took nearly all of last season for him to get comfortable with his wideouts, but this year's group is decidedly more talented with Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth and Wes Welker in the mix.
"I think every year is a little bit different," Brady said. "No doubt, we had to do that last year as well. It was tough last year because a lot of the stuff happened at the very end, with a guy like Doug Gabriel (who came in late in camp) and Jabar (Gaffney) coming in midway through the year, Reche (Caldwell) switching positions, but I think we have learned a lot in that sense."
Brady said the newcomers are making progress in the running game.
"I think the best thing is, I don't know if you guys can see it, but in the run drills they're blocking just as hard for the running backs as they are in those pass plays when they're going out. There's guys that are clearing out, running through the middle of the field and running as hard as they can so they can clear room for a teammate. It's a very unselfish group, and I think that's what makes a great receiver group and it's only going to help our offense."
The quarterback said he's also developing a productive (and possibly lucrative) off-field rapport with Moss.
"That's a big part of it, you have to build trust with one another," Brady said. "It's just like any relationship, it takes time to build and grow. I'm most concerned with what happens on the field, but I beat him in poker yesterday, so I'm happy about that."
Despite his impending birthday, and the forthcoming arrival of his first child, Brady said he doesn't feel old yet.
"I still feel like I'm 22," he said. "So I don't know if that's good or bad. "¦ I think I'm at a point in my career where I know what it takes to prepare myself, and I've tried just about everything at this point, so you eliminate a lot of stuff you did in the past and you can really hone in and be efficient in how to prepare for games and just to maximize your time."
To that end, Brady is limiting his throws in camp this summer. With shoulder pain earning him a permanent spot in the injury report (every Wednesday it reads: "shoulder, probable"), the quarterback said he's launched an arm conservation program.
"Before I'd come out and I'd throw 100 balls a day, and after awhile you throw 100 balls every practice, and it's 200 balls a day in two a days and you go, 'Gosh, after four days why is my arm sore?,'" Brady said. "Well, because you think about what major league baseball pitchers do, throw 100 pitches and take five days off, so we're throwing a lot out here."
Even with a tight watch on his pitch count and an impatient head coach, Brady said he thinks the offense will be ready soon enough.
"It's a process," Brady said. "I think sometimes it happens sooner rather than later. "¦ I'd like to think we're going to pick it up pretty quick, though. Like I said, if we keep working hard, if we keep coming out here, concentrating and putting maximum effort out here, then it comes fast. I hope it doesn't take until the first game of the year. I hope after 30 or 40 practices we have a pretty good idea of what I think we're all capable of."
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