Patriots

Quickness, extended plays leading to hits? Brady says no, 'I am what I am'

Quickness, extended plays leading to hits? Brady says no, 'I am what I am'

FOXBORO -- Before you can get to the answer of how the Patriots might be able to better keep Tom Brady upright this season, you first have to understand why he's being knocked down in the first place. 

It's not necessarily that he's holding onto the football longer, allowing deeper routes to develop, Brady explained on Wednesday. It's not that he's without Julian Edelman running shorter routes; Danny Amendola and James White have had productive seasons as Patriots quick-hitters, Jerod Mayo pointed out on the latest Quick Slants the Podcast.

It might be because the Patriots haven't controlled games and have been forced to throw. It might be simply bad execution between Brady, his offensive line or his receivers. Or all three.

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One reason Brady definitively scratched from the list this week: He's older, he's getting faster, and he's held onto the ball longer to extend plays, leading to more punishment. 

That was one hypothesis posed to Brady jokingly during his weekly press conference at Gillette Stadium.

"That’s not it, nope," he said, smiling. "I wish I could do that. Yeah, I am what I am. Who said that? That’s a very famous quote. Popeye said that."

Brady has never claimed that he's continuing to get quicker as he ages. He did say last season, however, that he believes he's faster than he was coming out of college. 

"I'm never going to run a 4.7 [second] 40," Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan show. "I mean, I'll never . . . I never have been able to do that. I never will be able to do that. But I've timed my 40 from what it was when I was coming out of college, and what it is now, and it's maybe two or three tenths faster than it was."

It's long been Brady's goal to do whatever he can to imitate some of the younger more mobile quarterbacks in the league like Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson. He openly lauds -- and is in awe of -- their ability to tap into their athleticism to help them make plays. 

Brady's not going to reach their level when it comes to the use of their legs, and he knows that. But he has done enough work that his quickness is at a place that allows him to continue to be successful 18 years into the league. 

"So much for me is just that initial step," Brady told WEEI last fall. "If you can have a little quickness in the pocket to evade an oncoming defensive lineman, you can extend the play. If it's a lethargic first step, then they always kind of get you.

"I’ve really tried to work on that first step. I don’t think my instincts in the pocket to move and scramble -- well, I would say to scramble -- those aren’t really inbred in me just based on my style of play. It never has been. I’ve just tried to stay in the pocket and buy time in the pocket to allow my receivers to get open."

That ability to buy himself time, though, hasn't reached the point where Brady is actually giving defenders more opportunities to hit him. And that's exactly what they've done through five games. He's on track to absorb a career-high in terms of sacks and quarterback hits.

There are a multitude of reasons for why that is, but even the 40-year-old with the maniacal regimen will acknowledge that it isn't because he has too much in the way of mobility.

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."

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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."

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Patriots-Falcons practice report: Gilmore, Rowe absent; Hogan added

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Patriots-Falcons practice report: Gilmore, Rowe absent; Hogan added

FOXBORO -- Chris Hogan only had one catch for 19 yards against the Jets. He very nearly had a second grab in the second quarter, but Tom Brady's throw was off the mark, and Hogan's ribs were exposed for rookie safety Marcus Maye to hammer. The pass fell incomplete and Hogan crumpled to the turf. 

He didn't leave the game, but Hogan did end up on Wednesday's injury report as a limited participant in practice due to a ribs injury. He was one of three players added to this week's injury report. Linebacker Elandon Roberts has an ankle injury and did not participate in Wednesday's workout. Guard Shaq Mason has a shoulder issue and was limited. 

Eric Rowe and Stephon Gilmore, neither of whom were spotted at the start of the session, did not participate.

Here's Wednesday's full practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Falcons game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
CB Stephon Gilmore (concussion/ankle)
LB Harvey Langi (back)
LB Elandon Roberts (ankle)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
WR Chris Hogan (ribs)
G Shaq Mason (shoulder)

ATLANTA FALCONS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
K Matt Bryant (back)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
OLB Vic Beasley Jr. (hamstring)
LB Jermaine Grace (hamstring)
LB Deion Jones (quadricep)
DE Takk McKinley (shoulder)
LB Duke Riley (knee)
WR Mohamed Sanu (hamstring)
DL Courtney Upshaw (ankle/knee)