Brady, Pats ready to resume firing


Brady, Pats ready to resume firing

By Mary Paoletti Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
FOXBORO -- How many times has Tom Brady faced Miami? Something like 18, right?

The Dolphins are an AFC East opponent, a rival, so there's volumes and volumes of history between these two teams. And the Patriots quarterback revels in it.

"It's always a tough place to play," he said Wednesday. "We've had our struggles down there, we've had some great wins. We play them at the beginning of the year, the end of the year. It always seems like a tough place to play. It's a division rival. They put a lot into the game, we put a lot into the game. It's going to be fun. It's a fun way to start the year."

Brady smiled in anticipation of Week 1. It's unsurprising he and his teammates are anxious to get back to the grind and shake off any lingering lockout talk.

"I think everybody put a lot of work in over the last six weeks to get to this point. We've moved on from the preseason and I think that getting here for a regular-season week has been a lot of fun for the guys. There's certainly a different urgency in the air. The guys are excited to watch a lot of film on the Dolphins and have a pretty good understanding of what they do well and the things we're going to try to take advantage of."

So how does one keep a long-term NFL relationship interesting? Fish the gauntlet out of the closet and throw it on the sands of South Beach. It's not the Patriot Way to bite when baited, but Miami has thrown out a line to the league and New England is the first challenger. Toward the end of August, third-year cornerback Vontae Davis beat his chest in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

"I'm going to go out on a limb and say secondary partner Sean Smith and I are the best tandem in the league," Davis said.

When asked about the potency of the pair, Brady smiled, nodded, indulged.

"They're very good and I think we've played them plenty of times to understand that," he said. "Vonte's really a ballhawk. He's had some great interceptions against us. He's very talented, he has all the tools of a great player. Sean Smith's another . . . He's long, he's tall, he's physical. He covers well. For a big guy he moves very well. They do have two very good corners."

The challenge will be answered in earnest on the field. And Davis and Smith aren't the only dangers Brady and his teammates are wary of.

"Benny Sapp, who's in there in nickel situations, is another very good player, experienced player who's caused us some problems too," he said. "It's a dangerous group. They're experienced in the secondary. They've been playing together for a little while. They're very good, especially when the pass rush gets going.

"I think we experienced that last year when we were down there. They were revved up early and, thank god for some special teams plays, but offensively we didn't play as well as we would have liked. We're going to need to play a lot better down there."

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

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”


Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.