Brady OK with his role — as a director
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — This is the role that Tom Brady will accept. When the play isn’t executed just right or something seems amiss, Brady reacts. He has pulled teammates aside for one-on-one discussions and displayed his frustration.
The intensity isn’t any different from any other preseason, in Brady’s mind. If he is vocal or animated in trying to direct his teammates, then it comes with the territory.
“If the quarterback won’t do it, then who will do it? I think that’s how I always think about it,’’ Brady said. “If it’s like, ‘Hey guys, that’s all right. It was a [bad] play, but we’ll get the next one.’ That’s not the way it works.
“The first rep of a drill is always the most important because you never get it back. It always sets the tempo and the timing. You don’t go out and throw interceptions. You don’t walk around. You don’t jog through unless it’s a jog-through period.
“We’re coming out here and competing. We came a long way for these prac tices. May as well come out and play our best.’’
Whatever influence Brady has over the offense is obvious to spectators such as Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith.
“He’s got a great grasp of the offense,’’ said Smith. “He’s putting guys in the right spots. He’s making corrections after plays are over. You see why he’s been to those Pro Bowls.’’
Yesterday, Brady spoke with the media for just the second time since training camp began July 29. He said there is no news on his contract situation, and he will just keep practicing.
“I’ll go back and do what I can control,’’ he said.
What he can control is what’s on the field as the Patriots move toward another preseason game. Yesterday, the Patriots were in Flowery Branch, just north of Atlanta, participating in two joint practices with the Falcons. Today they will hold a walkthrough and tomorrow night they play the Falcons at the Georgia Dome.
As they inch closer to the season opener Sept. 12 against the Bengals, the Patriots have a list of improvements from last season.
Barring injuries, they should have an abundance of receivers for Brady to target. But one area that Brady said could be even more helpful for his game is a productive running attack. Last season, the Patriots averaged 120 yards rushing a game, which ranked 12th in the league. However, their average of 4.1 yards per carry was tied for 19th.
If the Patriots want to be more balanced offensively, the running game will have to shake up the predictability of the offense.
Of the 1,076 plays the Patriots executed last season, they ran the ball 466 times. The only times they went to the run more than Brady’s arm were in three of the last four games of the regular season, against Carolina, Buffalo, and Jacksonville.
“You control the whole game if you’re able to run the ball,’’ said Brady. “Problems are when you can’t run the ball and it’s really one-dimensional, and then passing situations, they’re just two and out. You hate to hand off on first down [to get to] second and 9 because then you aren’t going to want to run the ball.
“We’re really trying to [work against] our defense every day because they are a great run-stopping defense. So I think that really helps us. The different schemes that we use to try to create some holes that we can run through. Our backs are fine no matter what.’’
Brady may carry the bulk of the offensive load but he is prepared to handle it. Brady, who turned 33 this month, said he isn’t limiting his throws in training camp and is feeling healthy.
“I feel great, as great as you can feel,’’ Brady said. “My arm feels good. My legs feel good.’’
Oh, and the finger?
“Finger feels good,’’ Brady said. “I’ve got no concerns.’’
The only thing left is for the Patriots to continue to build toward the season opener. The questions of last year and what did and didn’t work are no longer a focus for Brady.
He is more interested in seeing what the team can craft out of the season ahead.
“Every year has been totally different,’’ Brady said. “We have a very different team this year. It’s what you guys saw last Thursday night.
“You know we have to be able to run the football, something that we are really making a point of emphasis. [We are] getting the tight ends involved. Obviously, the receiving group we feel very good about. So we are incorporating the new players and seeing what kind of offense we can put together.’’
Monique Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.