Brandon LaFell hauls in a touchdown against the Eagles in preseason action. (Getty Images)
FOXBORO — Brandon LaFell admits he’s still not quite on the same page with Tom Brady but he’s getting there. With all the talk this week about the trust factor between Brady and the receiving corps, LaFell was asked Friday his feelings on where his rapport stands with the quarterback.
LaFell caught six passes for 59 yards in the preseason, including a 25-yard TD from Jimmy Garoppolo. But he has yet to catch a pass from Brady in the first two games that count. He was targeted six times in the opener and didn’t catch a ball. Last week, he didn’t even get targeted. Is he having trouble getting on the same page?
“I think the guys that have been here, they’ve got a better understanding of where Tom wants them to be,” LaFell said. “More so than me. But I think I’m getting there, the more and more reps I get in practice, I think I’m getting there. I’m not where I wanna be yet, but I think I’m getting there.”
LaFell says he’s working on that chemistry at at every possible free moment around the complex.
“His locker right next to mine. In the morning before practice, during practice,” LaFell added. “When the defense on the field, when we on the other field running routes and doing things like that. So we talk a lot.”
Who starts the conversations?
“Tom. If he sees me standing around I’m not doing anything, if there’s a special teams period I’m not involved in. ‘Hey, LaFell. Let’s go. Let’s go to the other field.’ Run whatever routes they got me running that week. He pulls me aside every time he sees me standing not doing anything.
“On the field, he is the coach. When we line up on Sundays [we] listen to the coaches all week, but on Sundays, it’s what 12′s saying in the huddle, that’s what goes.”
The other issue LaFell is facing is competition from Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson, a competition that ramped up last week when Dobson returned and Thompkins was a healthy scratch. All three are downfield threats. But it’s pretty clear that all three are not likely to be active at once, barring injury.
“It’s definitely like that man,” LaFell said of the competition. “Me, AD, KT, we out there at the “X” position. We go out there everyday and compete. But at the same time we push each other to get better.
As for wanting to get more touches after not even being targeted last week, LaFell admitted he’s hungry for that first catch.
“Like any other receiver, man, I would like to get the ball every snap if I can,” LaFell said. “But within this offense, we just go out there and we just do whatever the defense gives us. Defense comes out there and allows us to run the ball, we gonna run it down they throat. If they get back there and try to stuff the box, we gonna throw the ball.”
LaFell said he feels as if he’s been getting open in his routes but understands why Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman have been getting the majority of the targets (32 combined in first two games).
“Yeah I think I’ve been getting open,” LaFell said. “At the same time when I’m getting open, other guys like Jules and Gronk they’ve been open too so you can’t complain when you not getting the ball when other guys are open
and getting the ball.”
LaFell has always used his size and strength to get open off the line of scrimmage but there’s an art to it.
“It’s a lot that goes into that,” he said. “You can get open right off the line of scrimmage but you got a 20 yard route so it don’t make no sense to get open that quick. It’s just going out there and playing within the offense. Doing your job on every play. Getting open, making sure you’re at the spot Tom wants you to be, and make sure you have enough
spacing on the field.
Have the new rules helped?
“The new rules, man, they call it when they wanna call it,” he said with a beaming smile. “Cornerbacks are gonna still go out there and grab and hold. We still gonna push off and get physical. The new rules are the rules, but you still gotta get open.”