Brady on big hits, revved up Chargers 'D'


Brady on big hits, revved up Chargers 'D'

By Mary Paoletti

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady didn't want to go in-depth on "devastating hits" on Wednesday.

When asked if the media is sensationalizing the subject or if the game really is getting too dangerous, Brady skirted the issue.

"I've never really hit anybody and I don't get hit too much in the head, so who knows?'' he smiled. "They make rules; we've got to follow them."

He said that he hasn't even seen Brandon Meriweather's helmet-to-helmet hit on Todd Heap from Sunday's 23-20 win over the Ravens. The subject in general seemed simple enough to the Patriots QB.

"It's a dangerous game, it really is. I think we all signed up for this game, we know it's dangerous,'' Brady said. "Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt. That's not why we play the game. But we also know about the physical nature of the sport. Everybody in this locker room has been hurt. That's just part of what you're signing up for. "

Whatever happens, happens. At least for Tom Brady.

"I know Brandon. You get trained as a player and everyone's just trying to go out there and make the play. Sometimes I guess guys cross the line, sometimes guys are trying to do it within the rules that are set for us. It's a very instinctive game out there. They're going to enforce the rules however they see it. We learn to make adjustments with them."

Case closed.

The only story Brady's concerned with is New England's upcoming matchup with San Diego.

"They're 2-0 at home and 0-4 on the road and we're playing them at home and I'm sure we're going to get their best. It's going to be a good challenge.

"We want to play good teams," Brady added. "We want to play them on the road.''

Despite what Bill Belichick called "a bit of a slow start" from the Chargers, Norv Turner's club can pose some problems for the Pats. Teams are switching things up on defense now that New England no longer has an established deep threat like Randy Moss. Last weekend, Baltimore brought its safeties up and forced Brady to put the ball in the air. San Diego will likely do the same.

"It's about mixing and matching,'' Brady said. "If the safeties are going to come down low, try to stop the run, you have opportunities in the passing game. I think that's where you get problems as an offense, where you can't take advantage of what they're doing on defense."

Taking advantage won't be easy. And there could be a lot of heat on Brady in particular.

"They've got a ton of sacks,'' he noted. "I think they're first in the league in defense. Shaun Phillips has six sacks. He's a great pass rusher. They've got a really good front seven."

The QB knows his stats. San Diego does lead the NFL in team defense, allowing just 255.2 yards per game. And four of Phillips' sacks came in a single game against the Cardinals platoon of QB's.

What he didn't mention is that the Chargers are also first in the league in team offense -- to the tune of 432.7 yards per game.

It will take a complete game on all fronts for the Patriots to come home with a win. In light of New England's come-from-behind, last-second victory over Baltimore last weekend, this week at practice will be a busy one.

"You can't just play 30 minutes of football," the captain acknowledged. "There's not one position on this team that can't have their best game, because the way the Chargers play at home, the explosiveness that they have on offense, the way they're creating turnovers on defense and sacks and negative plays . . .

"Each guy in this locker room has to have their best game this week."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Former Patriots defensive end Chris Long is donating his salary


Former Patriots defensive end Chris Long is donating his salary

PHILADELPHIA - Chris Long is donating the rest of his year's salary to increase educational equality.

The Philadelphia Eagles' defensive end already gave up his first six game checks to provide two scholarships for students in Charlottesville, Virginia. Now, he's using the next 10 to launch the Pledge 10 for Tomorrow campaign.

"My wife and I have been passionate about education being a gateway for upward mobility and equality," Long told The Associated Press. "I think we can all agree that equity in education can help affect change that we all want to see in this country."

Long signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Eagles, including a $500,000 signing bonus and $1.5 million guaranteed. His base salary in 2017 is $1 million.

The charitable initiative encourages people to make donations to improve equal education opportunities. Long began his career in St. Louis in 2008 and played for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots last season. Long's foundation has selected four organizations whose missions focus on making education easily accessible to underserved youth while also providing students the support they need to develop strong social and emotional character.

The four organizations are based in the three communities in which Long has played during his NFL career. The city that raises the most money during the season will receive an additional $50,000 donation.

"There's a lot of opportunities to help out and they're wonderful organizations," Long said. "We have such a great platform as football players and hopefully fans get behind it."

Long grew up in Charlottesville and starred in high school at St. Anne's-Belfield before going to the University of Virginia. He was moved to start the scholarship program following the violent protests in Charlottesville in August.

"Our hometown is a wonderful place and I feel like people got the wrong idea about what the residents of Charlottesville are all about," he said.


Gronkowski advises Hayward to treat rehab like anything else -- dominate

Gronkowski advises Hayward to treat rehab like anything else -- dominate

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski's never suffered a break like the one Gordon Hayward did on Tuesday night, but he has been through enough to know what lies ahead as the Celtics forward stares at a lengthy recovery period.

"I saw it. I mean, I wish him nothing but wellness," Gronkowski said on Wednesday. "Hopefully he heals ASAP. You never want to see that with a player in any sport. When my friend showed me that last night, you get that feeling in your body, like, your heart drops. I wish him well.

"I can't wait to see him back. I know he's going to bounce back. Being here in Boston, he's going to be a hard worker it feels like. I can't wait to see him back."


Multiple back surgeries, a plate in his arm, a surgically-repaired ACL . . . Gronkowski has put in his share of rehabilitation work. Asked if he'd give Hayward any advice as he embarks on his road back to normalcy, Gronkowski's message was simple.

"Just go into rehab just like you go into anything else. Dominate it," Gronkowski said. "Come back when you feel ready. Come back when you're 100 percent . . . He wouldn't be where he is now if he wasn't a hard worker. I don't know the guy. Never met him. But it's not something you want to see as an athlete happen to anyone else."

Gronkowski acknowledged that in his experience, one of the biggest hurdles following an injury like that is the mental one. You quickly go from being a powerful athlete to a patient in need of help with even the smallest of tasks. 

"There is a big mental challenge, definitely, with that," Gronkowski explained. "It's not just not being able to be with your teammates and all that. It's outside of football, too. Because it takes away your whole life, going out like that . . . You can't do anything. You can't walk. You gotta have people do [things for you]. You get really frustrated. You just want the people around you to help you out and keep you in the best mindset throughout the whole process."