WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- This was all Tom Brady, all the time today at the Pats joint practice sessions with the Saints in cloudy, comfortable conditions.
Brady took every single rep with the starting offense. Jimmy Garoppolo, who may be the team’s starting quarterback for four games, didn’t take one snap with the startrts, or throw a single pass.
Brady was once again saddled with an offense that was minus Julian Edelman and Aaron Dobson and today was also missing Brian Tyms. (Tyms and fullback Eric Kettani were the Pats' two new missing bodies today.) But that didn’t matter. He efficiently used all of his remaining targets, completing passes to 14 different players. Yes, I said 14. Even Zach D’Orazio and Jonathan Krause reeled in one pass each from Brady. Hell, Krause’s was a touchdown.
Brady’s best work was all of his work. I saw him throw only one ball that I found questionable: A low bullet slightly behind Rob Gronkowski on a crossing route. It clanged off Gronk’s hands. But other than that, it was one highlight after another.
In 7-on-7’s, Brady floated a beautiful pass that had both touch and incredibly accuracy, leading Matthew Slater open in the back left corner of the end zone for six. Later in that same drill, he saw Gronk gain a step on linebacker Henry Coley and put it perfectly on the spot for another score. Those two would hook up again on a fade along the opposite sideline, with the ball put only where the enormous tight end could get it. Even Jonas Gray hit paydirt, hauling in another perfectly thrown ball by Brady that led him away from the defender but kept him from running out of room in the back of the end zone.
When the teams jumped to 11-on-11, Brady twice dialed up long distance. First he connected with Slater, who’s been pressed into more receiver duties because of all the injuries, then to Josh Boyce. Boyce had to slightly adjust his shoulders and hand position to make the catch, but he'd be the first to tell you Brady made all the goodness happen.
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Marcus Cannon left practice early and I did not see him return. He had combined on an excellent double-team block with Nate Solder when the Pats went with that jumbo tight end set. Sebastian Vollmer also seemed to tweak an ankle but was back in no time at all.
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Defensively, Malcolm Butler rebounded from a bad day yesterday with a decent one today. Good to see him have the confidence to not let what happened Wednesday linger. He broke up a fade to Marques Colton during 11-on-11 after his fellow members of the secondary had issues. (Pat Chung beaten by Ben Watson; Brandon Cooks working on Devin McCourty, and Cooks again, this time catching a TD on Brandon Fletcher.) Later, Butler was a big reason the Pats got a coverage sack of Drew Brees, locking up Colton while Tarell Brown handled the super quick Cooks. A couple plays later, though, it was McCourty exposed in man-to-man, losing track of fellow Rutgers grad Brandon Coleman. It seems pretty clear to me that Brown is their best option at right corner, but they’ve also worked him in the slot.
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Post-practice, Brady and Garoppolo worked with resistance bands, while PGA golfer Bubba Watson watched the Saints QBs sling footballs at moving targets on golf carts.