FOXBORO -- Tom Brady has admitted in the past that it's been more and more of a challenge to relate to teammates in their 20s as he's gotten older. As he enters his 40-year-old season, that hurdle certainly hasn't been lowered.
Consider this: When Brady and the Patriots captured their first Super Bowl title in the winter of 2002, third-round pick Derek Rivers was seven. After being introduced during a photo op on Thursday, Rivers acknowledged that meeting Brady would be an awe-inspiring moment for him.
"I'm going to be starstruck, I'm not going to lie," he said. "I got to meet [Panthers linebacker] Luke Kuechly earlier in the year in Cincinnati, and I was starstruck then, so I can only imagine what it's going to be like when I meet Brady. It will be crazy."
And therein lies the challenge for Brady. He wants to be a teammate. Not an idol. Not some unapproachable figure whose poster his younger teammates may have once had on the walls of their bedrooms.
For players like Rivers, fellow third-rounder Antonio Garcia, fourth-rounder Deatrich Wise and sixth-rounder Conor McDermott, there won't be much time to be a fanboy. While Brady will try to relate to them, the music they listen to, the movies they watch, he will also probably be among the first to tell them that it's time to get to work.
Here are some other quick Rivers quotes of note from Thursday's event . . .
On being inside Gillette Stadium for the first time: "Man this is awesome. I was born in Augusta, [Maine] so being back in this area . . . My mom and that side of the family is ecstatic. She went to school at Northeastern so they're huge Patriots fans. I know all my family and friends back home they're excited. Being in this stadium it's an overwhelming feeling . . . I'm here. The road to get here is over with. Now it's focusing on winning another Super Bowl."
On the biggest challenge of jumping from an FCS program at Youngstown State to the NFL: "I'd say the biggest hurdle is just, Coach Bo [Pelini] told me the game speed is a lot different. As far as once I get adjusted to the game speed and the tempo, everything should be smooth."
On if he needs to gain weight after weighing in at 248 pounds at the combine (veteran Patriots defensive ends weigh between 260 and 275 pounds): "I'm going to do whatever the coaches want me to do. If I need to gain weight, I'll feel comfortable gaining weight. If they want me to stay where I'm at, I'll stay where I'm at . . . I'm probably 250, 252 right now."
On what he brings the Patriots defense: "I love to pass-rush. That's my favorite thing is getting after the quarterback. I definitely bring that along with accountability and work ethic."
On what the Patriots Way means, as far as he understands it: "It's a culture and it's a mindset. I definitely think they bring that. That's what Patriots Way means. Blue collar. Hard work. We're going to get after it each and every day. We're going to go hard. That's what Bo brought. That same type of coaching, that same type of attitude."