Patriots

Belichick explains why Brady's diet, training regimen isn't for everyone

patriots_tom_brady_2_011417.jpg

Belichick explains why Brady's diet, training regimen isn't for everyone

FOXBORO -- As Tom Brady approaches his 40th birthday Thursday, much continues to be made of how exactly he's able to maintain his level of play and avoid the pitfalls of aging that befall most other quarterbacks. 

It's the diet. At least that's part of it. Limit the sugar. Limit the alcohol. Live in the vegetable aisle. (But keep the nightshades at arm's length.) Drink enough water to fill a dunk tank. 

And while some of Brady's teammates seem to have bought into the plan to some extent -- Rob Gronkowski is the latest to test it out -- it's not for everyone. Patriots coach Bill Belichick said as much during a press conference on Wednesday in a long and well-reasoned answer that highlighted the player-by-player approach the team takes to nutrition.

Belichick was asked, "Would you recommend [Brady's] diet and workout plan to other players on your team?"

"Well, we tailor everything we do to each individual, so we train players that are 185 pounds, we train players that are 350 pounds," Belichick said. "We train players that have a lot of different things they do on the football field. Some are very specific, like specialists, like quarterbacks, kickers, snappers, things like that. Some players have a very extensive role – special teams, offense or defense, first, second, third downs – so we have different training programs.

"And again, each individual is different – their age, their physical makeup, their build and their strength and explosion and power and so forth. You know, we have a certain general way of training everybody, but it really becomes pretty specific depending on the individual and what we ask them to do. So, we don’t want to train a player to do something that we’re not going to ask them to do. Unless it’s just part of the general training, we want to train players to do things that fall in line with what we would see them and ask them to perform on the field.

"So, depending on what the player is, then probably his age, his experience, his physical makeup, other medical issues, if there are any, his role and so forth all is part of what we look at for each individual player. So, what’s right for one person isn’t necessarily right for the next person. Not saying it’s wrong, but maybe there’s something better we can do for the other person."

It's a fascinating conversation. Just take the example of Gronkowski trying to take on Brady's plan. Gronkowski is a 265-pound tight end who needs to be able to absorb high-impact collisions without getting injured. He also needs to be sturdy enough on the line of scrimmage to move a 300-pound defensive lineman in the running game. At his best, he has the power to stiff-arm a cornerback or safety into the turf without breaking stride. 

Brady's job is decidedly different, yet Gronkowski is giving his quarterback's meal plan and training regimen a shot. Gronkowski's version may contain a few of his own alterations that will allow him to maintain his strength to perform his job to the best of his ability, but he seems to have bought in.

"I look at him and he turns 40 tomorrow," Gronkowski said, "and he runs around like he’s younger than me."

When prodded, Belichick went deeper on how the Patriots take how they train players -- and how they try to prevent player injuries -- on an individual basis as well. They look at player body types and seek out imbalances. Is there, after testing, a noticeable difference in a player's left leg strength versus right leg strength? What about his left leg flexibility versus his right leg flexibility? 

If there is, what does it mean? And how can they catch an injury before it happens? 

"We do that type of testing," Belichick said. "If we see that there’s an imbalance, then we would try to straighten that out rather than sit in the training room until the guy comes in, and then, 'OK, here’s the problem, now we’ll try to fix it.' We try to get those things taken care of before they become a problem." 

The Patriots are six days in to training camp and are already dealing with some bumps and bruises. Matthew Slater left Wednesday's practice, and Chris Hogan departed with ice on his knee. Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola haven't practiced in team drills since Day 1, and undrafted rookie Cody Hollister has been out since the weekend with an upper-body issue . . . And that's just the receiving corps. 

Though building plans for each individual player on the 90-man roster at this time of year is time-consuming, it's the method they've chosen. Last year's results, when the Patriots largely avoided long-term soft-tissue injuries, is as convincing an argument as any for how they do things. They believe in it, and they believe it's helping them to avoid the nagging issues -- and potentially the catastrophic ones -- that can hit a team in July and August.

"When you have a lot of new players on your team like we do," Belichick said, "then that process of finding out what it is . . . Again, doing the testing, seeing where the potential problems or imbalances may be, and I think our strength and training staff do a good job of that and try to address them. [Then] make the players aware of them so they’re working on them, and then, for the most part, we’ve been able to avoid things in that area."

Belichick: Karras stepping in an illustration of why Patriots are good

cp-patriots-ted-karras-112017x.jpg

Belichick: Karras stepping in an illustration of why Patriots are good

Is it Tom Brady? Is it Bill Belichick? Well, yes and yes. But there are other reasons for why the Patriots are 8-2, obviously, and Belichick highlighted one of them by lauding one of the most unsung players on his 53-man active roster.

What Ted Karras did on Sunday -- filling in against the Raiders as the starting center in place of David Andrews -- was just one of many examples of a player making the most of an opportunity presented to him, Belichick explained.

PATRIOTS 33, RAIDERS 8

"Ted always works hard," he said after the Patriots beat the Raiders, 33-8. "Nobody spends more time at the facility than he does. Training. Preparing. He had an opportunity, and he stepped up and did the most with it. That's what we needed. That's why we have a good team. We have a lot of guys who do that."

Andrews came down with an illness last week and missed the team's final two practices at the Air Force Academy. As the primary fill-in at all three interior offensive line spots, Karras was tapped as the replacement, and he played all 60 offensive snaps for the Patriots in what was his first start since filling in for Shaq Mason during the 2016 season-opener. 

Karras had played just nine snaps going into the game -- all in a blowout against the Broncos the week prior -- but was part of an effort in the trenches that allowed Tom Brady to remain relatively clean for the vast majority of the game. On 38 drop-backs, Brady was pressured just seven times, he was hit three times, and he was sacked only once. And for the second consecutive week, Brady's offensive line was not penalized. 

Considering that Karras wasn't the only fill-in used, the offensive line's performance was all the more impressive. LaAdrian Waddle continued to be the primary replacement for Marcus Cannon, who is dealing with an ankly issue, and when Waddle left Sunday's game briefly on two different occasions then Cameron Fleming took his place. 

"They did a great job to step in like that . . . [Waddle] was battling out there, going against some really good players," Brady said. "It was a great team win. Great by the offensive line. They've really done a great job with the penalty situation, moving the line of scrimmage and so forth. Great protection. We just have to keep it going."

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Former Patriots wide receiver Terry Glenn killed in car crash

cp-patriots-terry-glenn-112017x.jpg

Former Patriots wide receiver Terry Glenn killed in car crash

Terry Glenn, the Patriots' top draft pick in 1996 who had a tumultous six-year career with the team -- and who also caught the first NFL touchdown pass ever thrown by Tom Brady -- died early Monday morning in a one-car accident in Irving, Texas. He was 43.

Glenn wound up playing 12 years in the National Football League, joining first the Packers and then the Cowboys after leaving the Patriots in controversy in 2001. Glenn was involved in a pay dispute with the team during training camp, had issues with the coaching staff, and was deactivated by Bill Belichick after the fourth game of the year. He wasn't given a Super Bowl ring after the Pats beat the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.

He had earlier clashed with Bill Parcells as a rookie, with Parcells famously referring to Glenn as "she" when he was sidelined with a minor injury. He caught 90 passes for 1,132 yards and six touchdowns in '96 to help the Patriots advance to the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history; they were beaten by Green Bay in Super Bowl XXVI.

Glenn and Parcells reunited in Dallas in 2003 after Glenn had spent one yeat with the Packers, and he played the remainder of his career with the Cowboys. He had two 1,000-yard receiving seasons in Dallas.

According to reports, Glenn was with his fiance at the time of the accident. She's being treated at a local hospital for unspecified injuries.

He played college football at Ohio State.