Brady ready to focus on football after 'different' offseason


Brady ready to focus on football after 'different' offseason

FOXBORO - It has been the most arduous offseason in Tom Brady’s career. His reputation has been attacked, and he’s spent more time dealing with lawyers than a player of his high character should have. But just days after his suspension was overturned, Brady addressed the media Sunday for the first time since his post-Super Bowl press conference on February 2nd.

“I love football, I love this sport, and I love playing in the NFL,” said Brady.

You know Brady is the Patriots emotional lynchpin, and that’s been referred to quite often over these last eight months by teammates and members of the coaching staff. But for the first time, an already shortened offseason - born of winning a Super Bowl - was impacted heavily by the demands on Brady’s time because of Deflategate. I asked the quarterback if someone who’s as maniacal as he is in terms of preparation and rest was able to recharge as he normally would.

“It’s just different,” he said. “I think you know I’ve dealt with different situations in my life, you’ve got to always figure out a way to overcome different obstacles that you face. Part of it’s being mentally tough, and part of it’s compartmentalizing things and dealing with things when they’re really at the forefront. Then they are not - you gotta put them someplace else and think about what your job is.

“I think that’s a lot of what I learned over the years playing this position, and certainly anytime you’re someone thats in the public eye like I am, you deal with different things and I think everybody in their life deals with different stresses, whatever they may be: financial, family stress, or work stress. You just do the best you can do.”

Brady’s preseason performance was not one he’ll look back on with fondness. The quarterback was uneven, producing just one touchdown in 12 drives. But on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium versus the Steelers, Brady will be carried by an emotional wave, and the return of his two favorite targets, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski.

That should be more than enough to get him through the opener, but we’ll keep an eye on the weeks that lie ahead because this has been an offseason like no other.

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

File photo

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

Johnny Manziel said 10 days ago, "I'd go to New England in a heartbeat," when asked about the Patriots as a potential landing spot.

That seemed like wishful thinking at the time, but they're taking a look at him...along with 12 other NFL teams, according to ESPN's Eric Williams. 

Tom Brady's current backup Brian Hoyer is, like Manziel, an ex-Cleveland Browns quarterback. Manziel would again be competing with Hoyer for the Pats' No. 2 job should New England take a chance on "Johnny Football", the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, who's been out of football the past two years because of substance abuse and emotional problems.

FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman had it at 12 teams watching Manziel work out at the University of San Diego and said the Patriots gave Manziel a weigh-in.


Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

The Patriots have agreed to re-sign offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, his agent Scott Casterline confirmed on Twitter.  Waddle hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year began and made a visit to the Cowboys earlier this week. In the end, though, he chose to return to the team that claimed him off of waivers at the end of the 2015 season.

Waddle, who turns 27 in July, appeared in 12 games last season for the Patriots. He was the first right tackle the Patriots turned to when Marcus Cannon suffered an ankle injury mid-season against the Chargers. He ended up playing 51 snaps against the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram without allowing a sack. He then started the next three games against the Broncos, Raiders and Dolphins and held star rushers Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Cameron Wake -- all of whom rush primarily off of the offensive right -- without a sack. 

Injuries forced Waddle (380 snaps on the season) to split the right tackle position with Cameron Fleming (543 snaps), but he was the primary backup when healthy. Waddle started the Divisional Round playoff game against the Titans but suffered a knee injury and was removed for Fleming. 

Both Fleming and Waddle visited the Cowboys this week, and the fact that Waddle has re-signed with the Patriots may impact Fleming's decision moving forward. 

The Patriots went to great lengths to build tackle depth last season, and adding Waddle to the roster helps them retain some of that depth after losing their left tackle, Nate Solder, to the Giants via free agency. Waddle could be an option on the left side, but the vast majority of his work since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2013 has been on the right side. 

The Patriots now have Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, Tony Garcia and Andrew Jelks on their depth chart at tackle. Croston, Garcia and Jelks are all headed into their second years as pros. Croston remained on the 53-man roster all season -- an indication that the Patriots liked him enough not to expose him to the waiver system -- but did not see meaningful snaps. Garcia and Jelks both missed the entirety of the 2017 season on reserve lists. 

Once the Patriots lost Solder to the Giants, it seemed to be of paramount importance that the Patriots re-sign either Waddle or Fleming. Behind Cannon, there were simply too many question marks not to have one return. The Patriots could opt to draft a tackle, but this is considered an average year at that position in that there are few ready-made NFL players and several developmental types.

Before the Super Bowl last season, I asked offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia how the team was able to manage offensively with backups at right tackle for much of the season. 

"It's not like [Fleming and Waddle are] not good players," Scarnecchia said. "They are good players. Their skill set seemed to fit that position pretty well. They have the traits that we covet. And they're both really smart guys, very willing learners, and they're both driven to be good and they want to play good. And I think all those things have manifested themselves when they've been out there playing. And we've been very, very pleased with what they've done for us this year, essentially splitting that position."

Asked about the aspects of the game the Patriots worked on with both Waddle and Fleming last year, Scarnecchia said, "For us it transcends everything. Obviously run-blocking and pass-blocking. They're both good at those things. Are they great at those things? No. But they've been able to steadily improve over the last two years to the point where we put them out there and no one's worried. And it's been that way the whole season after Marcus got hurt. Yeah they've done a nice job for us."