FOXBOROUGH -- Patriots quarterback Tom Brady pronounced himself ready to go for Thursday’s preseason contest against the Eagles in Philadelphia, saying he’s “expecting” to see the field for the first time in more than 11 months.
“Yeah, I’m ready. I think everybody is ready. We’ve had a good camp,” Brady said, speaking with the media after a Tuesday morning walkthrough at Gillette Stadium. “Guys have really been working hard and trying to do what Coach [Bill] Belichick has asked, so, it’ll be nice for us to get out there and play the Eagles.
“We haven’t talked about it, but [Belichick] told the guys everybody needs to be ready to play, so I’m expecting to play. There’s no reason I wouldn’t. I’ve been out here and doing everything and it’ll be nice to get out there and play some football.”
Brady, who has been present for every one of the 22 practices since the start of training camp on July 30, hasn’t seen game action since last year’s regular-season opener against the Chiefs. In that one, he went down with an injury after Kansas City safety Bernard Pollard came crashing into his left knee, leaving the quarterback with a torn ACL and MCL that left him on the shelf for the season.
Since then, it’s been a long road back for the 32-year-old. With a sizable brace on his left knee, he’s worked through a series of practices in the spring, as well as the first two weeks of training camp. Now, the next step in his return is Thursday night against the Eagles.
It’s not the regular season -- and he won’t see more than a handful of snaps -- but the prospect of playing in a game again is still enough to get him revved up.
“I’m more excited than anything. I don’t think there’s anything to be nervous about for me. I’m just excited,” Brady said. “I’m excited to see how our team performs. That’s what I’m most excited about -- to see what the 2009 version of the Patriots is going to be like.
“As much as the coach asks me to play,” he said. “As long as they want to keep me in there, I’ll be ready to go.”
For his part, Belichick has remained noncommittal about whether or not Brady would play. On Monday, he said he hasn’t had the discussion with the quarterback about possible playing time. On Tuesday, it was more of the same.
“We’ll do what’s best for the football team, so whatever decisions those are that’s the combination of the team and the player. Whatever is best on that, that’s what we’ll do,” Belichick said. “Some players will play. Some players won’t play. Some players will play more than others and those decisions -- that will be on all the factors that we’ve already talked about.”
There’s no doubt as to where Patriots owner Robert Kraft stands. Speaking to reporters Tuesday as part of the introduction of a new Patriots’ lottery ticket, he said he expected to see Brady on the field Thursday night.
“I'll bet you 1,000 lottery tickets that he starts the first game,” Kraft told the media.
In just his second session with the local media since the start of training camp, Brady also touched on a variety of other topics (for other highlights of the Q&A session with the media that lasted just over 14 minutes, click here and here), including the fact that this year’s camp has a different feel than any other training camp he’s been through in New England.
“It’s really been an uptempo camp -- there’s been no downtime,” he said. “We meet three times a day, we practice twice a day. We have night meetings. We’ve had one day off in about 2½ weeks. Before, the schedule has been different, and you’ve had a chance to catch your breath a little bit. Not this year. We just keep getting after it. There’s been padded practices almost every day.
“And I think the guys have responded to the challenge, and we’ve come out and we’ve played well and I think Coach Belichick is happy with where we’re at. He doesn’t get on us too bad right now, which I guess means we’re doing something right.”