Patriots

Tom Brady details how ex-players on coaching staff give Patriots a 'great advantage'

Tom Brady details how ex-players on coaching staff give Patriots a 'great advantage'

Tom Brady won Super Bowls with Troy Brown and Jerod Mayo as teammates. Now, at least one of them is his boss, with Mayo serving as the New England Patriots' inside linebackers coach and Brown helping out at Patriots practices as an unofficial assistant. 

This unique situation is a reminder of Brady's amazing longevity. But beyond that, Brady believes having Mayo and Brown around actually gives the Patriots a leg up over other NFL teams.

"They were great players and great leaders, and for them to transition and then pass on their knowledge in a different way is a great advantage to the guys on our team," Brady said Tuesday morning in an interview on WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show."

Here's the key component: Brown and Mayo both played under the same system that head coach Bill Belichick operates today, meaning they are uniquely prepared to help younger players -- like rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry -- get caught up to speed.

"A lot of teams don't get that type of experience, because there's so much turnover and carryover," Brady said. "You don't see a lot of former players back there in the same offense, coaching the same things that they were coached (on). So, I think there's a huge benefit.

"Those guys are great assets to the team because they can hear what's being coached, they can see what a player is doing and they can give the players different insights. They can apply that on the field in real time to make the right decision and make the right play.

" ... If your coaches can help you get to those decisions quicker and you can make the decisions right more often than wrong, it's a huge benefit to the team, and I think those guys have done a great job doing that."

Belichick is the NFL's longest-tenured coach by six years. That stability has been crucial to New England's success over the last two decades, while also allowing former players like Brown and Mayo -- who won a combined four Super Bowls with the Patriots -- to pass along valuable insights that are still relevant to the 2019 squad.

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Tom Brady (calf) looks good to go after popping up on Patriots injury report

Tom Brady (calf) looks good to go after popping up on Patriots injury report

FOXBORO — Because it’s Tom Brady, any time his name shows up on the injury report it’s worth taking notice. But from what reporters saw at Thursday's Patriots practice, it appears as though there’s not much to worry about when it comes to Brady’s latest ailment. 

Brady was listed as a limited participant during Wednesday’s practice due to a calf injury, but he seemed to be moving without issue at the start of Thursday’s workout. 

Going through the team’s usual stretching routine, Brady moved without a noticeable limp. He also took part in the high-knee portion of the warmup by aggressively churning his legs, not favoring one or the other. Brady jogged at a good pace during the warmup and after the warmup while heading toward one end of the practice field for the next practice period. That was when media availability at the session ended. 

Brady's lower-body health is critical to the success of the Patriots offense. He’s not a threat to run for significant yardage, but his mobility inside the pocket allows the Patriots to avoid negative plays and create scramble-drill opportunities that can lead to big gains. Against the Jets and their blitz-happy coordinator Gregg Williams, it’ll be important for Brady to be able to climb the picket to escape edge pressure or side-step pressure coming from the interior of the Patriots offensive line. 

As the Patriots deal with shuffled personnel on the offensive line — Isaiah Wynn is on injured reserve and Marcus Cannon is dealing with a shoulder injury — Brady may be forced to get himself out of trouble more than he might if he had his full starting offensive line to play behind. 

What reporters saw from Brady on Thursday was brief. But it was encouraging for the Patriots that after being limited 24 hours earlier, the 42-year-old quarterback looked like himself. (The Patriots will release an injury report later on Thursday. Brady would be considered limited again if he took anything less than what’s typically considered a full workload for him.)

The Patriots were without fullback James Develin and outside linebacker Shilique Calhoun at the start of practice. Both missed Wednesday’s workout. Develin is dealing with a neck issue while Calhoun had a non-injury related issue that held him out of the team’s first practice this week. 

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Tom Brady gives Antonio Brown route-running lesson at Patriots practice

Tom Brady gives Antonio Brown route-running lesson at Patriots practice

FOXBORO — It didn’t go on for too long, but Tom Brady will probably take any opportunity he gets with Antonio Brown to go over the finer points of route-running. 

The pair did just that at Thursday’s practice as they went over the details of how to set up a defender at the tail end of the Patriots warmup period. Brady played the role of cornerback at times, showing Brown how to attack him. Then Brady had Brown play the role of corner, apparently showing Brown what he wants Brown to do in certain situations based on a defender’s leverage. 

The conversation lasted about two minutes and was somewhat animated as the quarterback-receiver combo shared their perspectives with one another. Given that the quarterback’s understanding of where his receiver is headed is based in part on body language, it makes sense that the two were deliberate in their footwork and, at times, with their upper-body movements. 

Brady and Brown have been teammates for just over a week, and the pair connected four times in Miami for 56 yards and a touchdown. They also were not close on a handful of targets in the third quarter when Brady expected Brown to do one thing and he did something else. 

Brown spent extra time at the Patriots facility last week to get caught up on plays as quickly as possible, but there is no substitute for one-on-one work with Brady as he gets acclimated to Brady’s preferences. Even receivers like Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman have spent recent seasons getting in extra training camp reps with Brady long after establishing themselves as trustworthy targets. It’s an ongoing process, being one of Brady’s go-to options.

For Brown, who’s dealing with very limited practice reps with Brady going into meaningful games, there’s an immense amount of ground to make up. Every little bit of information he can glean from Brady could help, which is why it wouldn’t be surprising to see the two continue to have conversations like the one they had before Thursday’s practice began in earnest.

Fantasy Football Beat: Can Bill Belichick eliminate Le'Veon Bell?>>>

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