Patriots

Belichick: Brady's dependability 'right at the top of the list' of great qualities

Belichick: Brady's dependability 'right at the top of the list' of great qualities

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick has a saying: "Dependability is more important than ability." And no player during Belichick's tenure in New England has been more dependable than Tom Brady.

Since winning the quarterback job in 2001, Brady has missed starts for only two reasons: A torn ACL in 2008 and Deflategate. That's it. 

He has made 228 starts in that span, dealing with an array of injuries that have impacted his shoulder, ribs, ankle and hand just to name a few. Despite those, Brady has consistently performed as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. 

Yet as important as his performances have been, his ability to be available week-to-week, both on game days and during practices, has been priceless for the Patriots offense.

Take this week for example. Brady absorbed a hard shot to the area just above his right knee courtesy of Seattle safety Kam Chancellor in last Sunday night's loss to the Seahawks. Though Brady admitted after the game that the hit caused him soreness, he has not been limited in this week's practice, and he's in line to start during this weekend's homecoming against the 49ers -- his first game in San Francisco since entering the league.

"Very impressed," Belichick said when asked about Brady's durability on Friday morning. "There are a lot of great qualities that Tom has. That's right at the top of the list.

"Certainly it's very important for him to be healthy, but it's important for the team, on a weekly basis, to be able to go out there and practice and get the timing with the quarterback who's going to play in the game with the other people -- the linemen and receivers and so forth -- who are going to play with him. 

"If you're missing one receiver then maybe you get the timing with the other 10 players . . . If you're missing the quarterback, you could still get it and certainly we have a good quarterback in Jimmy [Garoppolo] and Jimmy could go out there and run everything that Tom can run. We've seen that. I'm not saying that he's not capable or qualified to do it. He is. And he does a great job of it. And when we put Jimmy in there, it's really seamless. You can't, unless you were actually looking at the position, if you could just block out that position and say which guy was in there at quarterback, I don't know if you would know a lot of times. 

"But for the quarterback to have that kind of consistency with the snap count, the cadence, the way that his voice or mannerisms or reminders in the huddle -- little things like that -- the whole timing at the line of scrimmage, and running the plays in practice . . . That is a huge carryover to the games. Again, Tom's consistency to do that, not only for himself but for the rest of the team, and the ability for the rest of the team to be able to count on that is very important."

There's a lot there to pick through, including Belichick's insistence that Garoppolo looks just as good as Brady does in practice "a lot of times," but Belichick continued to roll on the four-time Super Bowl champion and the preparation that he puts in to ensure that he's available for all of the games and practices he's participated in over the last 16 years. 

"Tom works very hard on his physical conditioning," Belichick said. "Recover, rest . . . It's really 24/7, 365 days a year. I don't know if it's 365 days a year. But every day that I see him here, he's doing those things. He's not just in here to put in time. He's in here to work on his training, work on his conditioning, get treatment, do whatever he can do to physically maintain or improve where he's at. Absolutely, it's a daily, multiple times a day, but it's a daily thing for Tom."

Matt Cassel: Why you shouldn't worry about Patriots' offensive line injuries

Matt Cassel: Why you shouldn't worry about Patriots' offensive line injuries

Any time you have rotating parts on the offensive line -- Korey Cunningham and Marshall Newhouse have had to step in for Isaiah Wynn and Marcus Cannon, and obviously the center position has changed with David Andrews being out -- it's going to be a major question mark.

But I think the wild card in this whole situation is Dante Scarnecchia.

I’ve said this time and time again: Dante Scarnecchia is the best offensive line coach in the NFL. He's been doing it for so long, and his ability to coach these guys and have them ready to play is second to none.

Scar is so detail-oriented. He does a great job in the run game, and he also understands protection schemes and blitz pickup identification.

When I was in New England, we would do 9-on-7, which is a run-oriented drill. He'd do a great job of making sure I identified the appropriate linebacker for the offensive line so they knew who block. He also has a great balance of pushing those guys: pushing to get the best out of them, but also knowing when to pull back.

They’re so detail-oriented in that offensive line room that you feel good as a quarterback -- going into any game or any situation, with whoever’s playing -- that he’ll have those guys prepared to understand their blocking and protection schemes.'

The best example I can think of is Stephen Neal. This is a guy who never played high school football, college football or anything like that. He was a professional wrestler. 

But we picked him up, and Coach Scarnecchia and the rest of the staff developed Steve into dominant force for us at guard for years to come. I think a lot of his development as a player had to do with the coaching and expertise that took place within that room.

You’ve got to have trust in your guys up front. And a lot of that comes from you having a tremendous amount of faith in the coaching staff to prepare those guys every week. 

Every coaching staff has a feel for it. But based on my experience, the Patriots' coaching staff was the best I’ve been around during my NFL career.

If certain pass rushers that were giving us problems on the edge -- we called them "game-wreckers" -- Scar and the coaching staff would always come up with a great scheme to help, whether it was chipping the edge with the running backs or showing tight end presence so the pass-rusher couldn’t get clean run at the quarterback coming off the ball.

So, when we played the Colts and guys like Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, who were one of the most dominant pass-rushing tandems in the league, we’d always have a plan. We wouldn’t let those guys ruin the game. 

I think that’s the genius part of what the Patriots do: They go above and beyond in identifying the issue and doing whatever they can to make sure it doesn’t wreck the offensive plan. 

That's what I expect Scarnecchia and the coaching staff will continue to do, regardless of who's out there.

Editor's note: Matt Cassel had a 14-year NFL career that four seasons with the New England Patriots (2005-2008). He's joining the NBC Sports Boston team for this season. You can find him on game days as part of our Pregame Live and Postgame Live coverage, as well as every week on Tom E. Curran’s Patriots Talk podcast and NBCSportsBoston.com.

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Patriots QB Tom Brady listed on Week 3 injury report with calf issue

Patriots QB Tom Brady listed on Week 3 injury report with calf issue

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has made his first appearance on the team's injury report this season.

The Patriots and New York Jets have released their first injury reports ahead of Sunday's Week 3 matchup at Gillette Stadium, and the most notable name listed is Brady, who was limited in Wednesday's practice with a calf injury.

Brady has enjoyed a fantastic start to the season, throwing for 605 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions through the first two games. His inclusion on this injury report shouldn't sound any alarms, but it's certainly a situation worth monitoring throughout the week. Patriots right tackle Marcus Cannon also was limited Wednesday. He suffered a shoulder injury in New England's Week 1 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and didn't play in Sunday's victory versus the Miami Dolphins.

The Jets roster has been ravaged by injuries of late, and their latest report reflects that. New York had 11 players who either didn't participate or were limited in Wednesday's practice. Starting quarterback Sam Darnold was among the Jets players who didn't practice. He is recovering from mono and won't play Sunday.

Here are the Wednesday injury reports for both teams.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2-0)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
Shilique Calhoun, LB Not Injury Related
James Develin, FB, Neck

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
Caleb Benenoch, OL, Calf
Tom Brady, QB, Calf
Marcus Cannon, OT, Shoulder
Matt LaCosse, TE, Ankle

FULL PARTICIPATION
Brandon Bolden, RB, Hamstring

NEW YORK JETS (0-2)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
Josh Belamy, WR, Shoulder
Trenton Cannon RB, Ankle
Sam Darnold, QB, Illness
Jordan Jenkins, LB, Calf
C.J. Mosley, LB, Groin
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Hamstring/Knee
Quinnen Williams, DL, Ankle

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
Kelvin Beachum, OL, Ankle
Steve McLendon, DL, Hip
Rontez Miles, S, Hip
Brian Winters, OL, Shoulder

FULL PARTICIPATION
Braxton Berrios, WR, Hamstring
John Franklin-Myers, LB/DL, Foot
Harvey Langi, LB, Knee
Alex Lewis, OL, Shoulder
Frankie Luvu, LB, Hand
Marcus Maye, S, Calf

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