FOXBORO — The Patriots defense answered the bell big time Thursday in the team’s last practice on grass before heading for Richmond and three practices in the heat of Virginia against the Redskins.
The way Tom Brady looks at it, a good physical challenge from a hard-hitting defense is just what the doctor ordered Thursday.
“They are a physical defense,” Brady said of the blue shirts. “I think all of those guys are veterans. They know how to get away with certain plays. Like holding for example ‘ it happens every play, so if you look close enough you’re going to find holding. There is an edge that you can always push it to.
“If you look at the offensive line, there’s holding on every play. That’s just the way football is. You’ve just got to do it in a way where the refs don’t see it and don’t call it. But that same thing goes for the defensive backfield. If there is a way to gain leverage on a particular route then you’re going to use it. The veterans know how to do it better; they know right where the limit is.”
Holding or not, the Patriots defense, led by Chandler Jones, Vince Wilfork and Rob Ninkovich got the better of the Patriots offensive line on Thursday. One such example came when Jones and Ninkovich came blasting through to stop Stevan Ridley for a loss on a rush inside the 5.
On the outside, it was Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis leaving their mark, including a pick-6 on Brady. But beyond the interception, what impressed Brady was the physical pounding the defense was laying his receivers, forcing them to toughen up during practice. Brady thinks the physical challenges his receivers see in practice can only pay dividends when the games roll around.
“Absolutely, I think that’s what defenses do,” Brady said. “We’ll go into games and say, look, these guys hold on every play. They grab you, they clutch you, they hold you, but we still have to figure out a way to get open. It’s not flag football. Their hands are going to be on you, and the refs, they’re only going to call it when you pass the limit of where they think the limit is.
“That’s just part of football, and I think the best defenses I’ve ever played against ‘ they get their hands on you, and they don’t let you get into your route, and they disrupt the timing. Our corners, Kyle Arrington, and linebackers in coverage do a great job of that, too. But we’ve got to learn to be just as physical. We’ve got to learn to push off in the right way and get our leverage because that’s how it’s going to be when it matters.”
Here is the rest of Tom Brady‘s presser Thursday:
Q: What are your early impressions of James White?
TB: He’s done a great job since he’s got here. He’s got a real maturity for someone who is just getting out of college. He’s made a lot of really great plays out here. We’re all trying to work to get better, and we’re all trying to make improvements. We can all do it. The young players need to come out here and keep working hard, and he’s one of those guys who has been out here every day so he’s been able to do that. He’s been able to make a mistake, get the correction, come out again and not make the mistake the next day, so it’s been great.
Q: Has James White surprised you in his versatility, seeing that many people thought he was drafted as a third-down back?
TB: I knew when we drafted him everyone really liked him, so that’s why he’s here, because I think everyone thinks he can contribute to the team and he can make a big impact on the team. He’s done that. He’s definitely someone who has come every day, and he makes really impressive plays for a young player. The more of those guys we have, the better we’re going to be collectively, and that’s what training camp really gives everybody an opportunity to do ‘ because you get the chance, and you want to try to go out and show people what you’re capable of, you want to go out and surprise people that they didn’t think you’re capable of something, and you show them that you can do it. That’s where you really gain the trust of your coaches and your teammates.
Q: How much more comfortable is Danny Amendola this year now that he has a full season in the system under his belt?
TB: I think everybody ‘ Danny and all of the guys who are coming in here after their first year with our team ‘ it’s a different offense. We do quite a few things, we move guys around a lot, there are a lot of post-snap reads, a lot of pre-snap reads, there is a lot of non-verbal communication that goes on. So we’re still working at it, and he’s been out here every day working his butt off, too. That’s been great to see, and for the most part we’ve had full participation, so that’s really helping our team get better to be out here on the field doing the things that we’re going to need to be able to do.
Q: How much does it hurt Aaron Dobson’s development that he can’t be out here working with you?
TB: I think all of the guys are in different situations. It certainly doesn’t help not to practice, but if you’re dealing with something, you’re dealing with it. There is nothing you can really do. You’ve just got to do what the trainers tell you to do. I know he’s working hard and he wants to be out here. Whenever he gets back out here, it’ll be great to have him back out here because he was a really great player for us last year, and we need that this year.
Q: Will it be refreshing to go down to Washington, D.C. and evaluate yourself against another team?
TB: Sure, since the spring, I don’t know how many practices we’ve had ‘ 21, 22. They’ve seen a lot of stuff that we do, we’ve kind of know them a little bit, but you’ll get some different competition. This is all good for us, too. There are sometimes when you play a team twice in a year, and they’re really familiar with you, you’re familiar with them, and ultimately you’ve got to go out and the fundamentals of the game kick in. You’ve got to make the plays, you’ve got to make the reads, you’ve got to do the fundamentals of the game that allow you to win the game. Block, tackle ‘ all those things are really important. That’s kind of the fundamentals of the camp. You can’t scheme every play against our particular defense. We’re just trying to install the things that we do. There are some plays that we run that we’d probably never run if we knew a team was going to play this style of defense that they’re playing, but it’s still good work.
Q: Now that you’re getting ready to turn 37, how do you maintain your exuberance for the game?
TB: I think I owe it to my teammates to bring the enthusiasm and energy every day. There are no days off for the quarterback. I think we try to set a great example, and I learned that from the guys that I’ve played with my whole career, whether it was at Michigan, or whether it was Drew Bledsoe or Damon Huard ‘ all the guys I’ve taken something from. I’ve been lucky to do something I really love to do. I’d love to keep doing it, so that’s a great motivation for me to come out. Where else would I rather be? This is a lot better than any cubicle I could probably think of. It’s a pretty good office.
Q: How much has [trainer] Alex Guerrero helped you?
TB: More than anyone could ever realize. He’s been someone I’ve been very lucky to work with for a long time. He’s my best friend, and he’s phenomenal at what he does ‘ probably the best in the world ‘ so I’m pretty lucky.
Q: When you were growing up, could you have ever dreamed about what has happened to you?
TB: No, you probably couldn’t. Of course, it feels just like my life, and it feels like the things that I’ve done my whole life, but you’re right. It’s been a lot of progression and a lot of things to get to this point, so I don’t take any of those things for granted. I’m certainly appreciative of doing something I really love to do for a profession. I like being a good example for some young athletes and for my teammates of how to do things the right way.
Q: Are you still trying to prove people wrong or are you past that?
TB: I don’t think you’re ever past that. I think that’s part of your character when you’re faced with [adversity]. Everybody has faced adversity in their career. You ask any player in the locker room, any coach, and they’ve dealt with something. We’ve all got a story to tell. It’s not easy to get to this point for anybody. It’s a lot of hard work and commitment by a lot of guys, but we’re very fortunate to be in the positions we’re in. We’re just going to go out and try to, as Coach Belichick always says, be a pillar in the community and also win a lot of football games.
Q: What are your thoughts on Ty Law going into the Hall of Fame?
TB: It’s great. It’s really cool how the Hall of Fame has evolved over the last few years, and some really great players have been in there. And Ty is one of the best that I’ve ever played against. He had a great, unique play style, and he’s another guy who really made quarterbacks pay. He was really a playmaker, and I had a lot of experience going up against him when I was younger, and he made a lot of plays for us in big games. It’s cool to see him go in. He’s been around quite a bit, so I’ve always kept in touch with him, and it’ll be really cool to see on Friday night.
Q: What have you seen from James Anderson and Jamie Collins in coverage?
TB: We’ve got a lot of linebackers that can cover, and they do a great job covering. I think Jamie has done a great job of that since he’s got here. And James [Anderson], Jerod [Mayo], Don’t’a [Hightower] ‘ all those guys ‘ they’re good. They’re big, they’re physical, they’re athletic, they’re quick, they’ve got good long speed, so there are no easy plays out there. If you make the play, you’ve got to earn it, and they’re going to make you earn it on every play.