Patriots

Belichick: A 'parade' for Brady's 40th birthday?

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Belichick: A 'parade' for Brady's 40th birthday?

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick couldn't help but smile during his press conference on Thursday morning. A little less than 24 hours beforehand he was chucking blocking pads at Tom Brady to help mimic a pass-rush. He enjoyed it, it seemed. Thoroughly. 

"It's a good for all of us to do those," he said, smirking. "Look, if they can't handle it from us, then they're in a lot of trouble. There are a lot bigger, faster, stronger, more explosive guys than we have on our coaching staff. Hitting receivers with bags, and try to knock the ball away from them, and make them catch through contact. Make the quarterbacks avoid the rush, stuff like that. If they can't handle us, [they're in trouble]."

And so it goes, every day. Belichick finding ways to challenge Brady when Brady's seen and done it all. Even as he turns 40 years old on Thursday, it's clear Belichick relishes the opportunity to test the quarterback who has said he now feels like he has all the answers to the test.

When asked about that idea, which Brady mentioned to The MMQB's Peter King in a podcast after Super Bowl LI, Belichick seemed to take it as a personal challenge. He thinks he has all the answers? Really?  

"There's a lot of us around here that have a lot of experience, but I don't think that's going to help us much in terms of this year," Belichick said. "We're in a new year. New opponents, new challenges, and we'll have to find a way to get over those hurdles. They'll be here every day, will be here every week. Yeah, we've probably seen some element of it before somewhere, but not with this team we haven't."

Brady will undoubtedly hear fans screaming "Happy Birthday" in his general direction during Thursday's practice, and maybe Belichick will make some mention of Brady entering his fifth decade. But even if August 3rd is a reminder to the rest of the world that what Brady is doing at his age is utterly confounding, for Belichick it's just another day for Brady to be Brady. 

"Yeah, I mean he's had a great career, works hard, comes to work every day," Belichick said. "It's been like that for a long time. I don't want to say you take it for granted, but I wouldn't say it's a huge shock that's he'll walk in here today, come out, perform, and give us his best. That's what he's been doing for some time. We all expect that. He expects that out of himself. I'm sure he expects that out of me. We all expect that out of each other. But the level of consistency and the longevity of it is obviously very, very impressive."

So anything special planned for the big day? Other than the usual, of course, trying to catch Brady off-guard, trying to challenge him in ways that will keep him sharp for his 18th season. Belichick thought for maybe a second. 

He asked, "Like a parade?"

Right. Just another day. 

Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip

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Brady enjoying "unique experience" of road trip

While being away from home isn’t uncommon for the Patriots - just think about all those Super Bowl trips - Tom Brady believes each excursion takes on its own feel, its own flavor and - eventually - its own meaning.

Back in 2014, the Pats went from playing in Green Bay and losing to the Packers straight to San Diego for a week on the West Coast prior to a rousing victory over the Chargers. That week, many players said in the aftermath, helped propel the team to great heights,.  You’ll recall, that season ended in grand fashion, a triumph in Super Bowl 49 over Seattle, at the time - and maybe still - the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

“I think all these experiences are pretty unique,” Brady said Friday from Falcon Stadium at the Air Force Academy. “That was a very unique experience. This is different.”

Brady spoke about the number of stops the Pats have and will have to make on this trip - from Denver to Colorado Springs then on to Mexico City Saturday before a Sunday night return to Foxboro and their own beds for the first time in 10 nights.

“When you’re on the road like this, there’s less to do,” he said. “You know my family is not here, my kids aren’t here. There’s nobody telling me what I did wrong in the house. It’s just being at home and now it’s being here and trying to figure out a way to win a game.”

Brady quickly smoothed over any possible ill-will at home - why make Gisele mad? - smiling and saying “I didn’t mean that so I’ll take it back.”

Kidding aside, the 40-year old signal caller seemed pleased with the work the Patriots have put in during this long trip. A week of team-bonding can’t be a bad thing, especially for a group that seems to be hitting it’s stride both on and off the field. There’s the five wins in a row and also a locker room that has a better understanding of one another than it did during the first month of the season. But Brady is not ready to make any grand proclamations. That just wouldn’t be his style.

“I think it’s still work in progress,” he said of team chemistry. “You look at still adding a player like Marty (Bennett) last week. Things are always changing and evolving. We’re still trying to figure out what we’re doing well and after 8 or 9 weeks, you start to figure those things out. Now we have to work hard at those things, try to really own them, and use them going forward to try and win the most important games. We have a lot of important games coming up, starting with this one. Hopefully we can play our best football going forward.”

Brady said he’s been fired up for this game with the Raiders south of the border ever since the schedule was released all those months ago.

“I’ve never been to Mexico City,” he said. “It’s been a game you kind of look forward to. We’re playing against a really good football team in a pretty cool environment. It will be very memorable. I think everyone is excited.”

Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

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Patriots’ injury report: Center Andrews, WR Hogan out

The Patriots will be without center David Andrews on Sunday when they play the Raiders in Mexico City. Andrews, who hasn’t all practice all week with an illness, is one of four Pats listed as out on the injury report released Friday.

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Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, who didn’t play last week against the Broncos is also out, along with wide receiver Chris Hogan and special teams captain Matthew Slater. Offensive linemen Ted Karras and Joe Thuney each took reps at center so one of them will likely start in Andrews’ absence. LaAdrian Waddle filled in for Cannon and performed well last week vs. Denver. 

Here’s the full injury report for the Patriots and Raiders: