Brady: Regular-season win over Texans doesn't mean anything

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Brady: Regular-season win over Texans doesn't mean anything

Tom Brady has been around Bill Belichick long enough -- almost 13 years now -- that the quarterback and coach are on the same page when it comes to most things football. Such was the case this morning when Brady did his weekly interview with WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Show and he reiterated what Belichick said during a conference call on Sunday: New England's dominating regular-season win over the Texans won't mean much on Sunday when Houston returns to Gillette Stadium for the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

"I don't think that game is going to have any bearing on what happens next week," Brady said. "It was a big win for our season, it was a big win at that time. But this game is going to be entirely different, and I think we've got to be able to put just as much preparation into the game as we did before. 

"We know these guys. I think that's the part that I enjoy, is that I've already spent a lot of time preparing for them. So, to have another week to do it, you feel like you're going to know them that much better. Now, we've still got to go out and execute against it. They have some great players on defense. That was a very good game they played the other day."

Brady said he watched the Wild Card games this weekend, and he took note of how well the Texans defense played in their win over the Bengals.

"They've got a very good defense. J.J. Watt's as good as there is in the NFL," Brady said. "They present their own challenges. I know they didn't feel like they played their best against us, which they didn't. And in a lot of ways I feel like we can play better, too. We're going to need to play better. This is going to need to be our best game."

To prepare for Watt last time, the Patriots used racquetball paddles in practice to imitate how disruptive Houston's defensive lineman can be when an opposing quarterback drops back to pass. Brady thinks he'll see more of the same this week.

"They might be taller this time," Brady said of the paddles. "He might get five or six of them out there. Last time he had four, and they just tried to mirror where I was looking. It's actually very helpful. I'm always excited to see what coach Belichick is going to pull out of his hat."

In 2010, the Patriots were faced with a situation that, on the surface, looks similar to the one they're facing now. Back then, they crushed the Jets in the regular season. When the Pats had to play them again in the playoffs, the Jets returned the favor.

"We haven't talked about that at all," Brady said. "I'm sure coach will talk about that this week, though. I think that's a great example. The reason we lost that game wasn't because we beat them, whatever, four weeks before. It was because we sucked in the game. We just didn't play the way we're capable. I think the important part is to play up to our level of expectation. And that's from myself, to the receivers, to the tight ends, to the running backs, to the offensive line, to go out and play the way that we're capable of playing. We have a lot of confidence when we do that."

Here are some of the other highlights from Brady's interview:

On seeing Redskins offensive lineman Trent Williams hit Seahawks corner Richard Sherman after Seattle's win Sunday
"Everyone reacts differently," Brady said. "I have my own style. I just try to be respectful to the opponents, because I have a lot of respect for the opponents. It's not a bunch of B.S. Guys that are playing in the NFL are pretty good players. I just give them the respect they deserve. I've played a lot of really great players in my career -- the best cornerbacks, the best linebackers, the best defensive linemen. When you play against Dwight Freeney and Jason Taylor, and you play against those guys and you realize you're going to have to play them again, you'd better say as many nice things as you can, which is kind of what I like to do."

On tight end Rob Gronkowski's recovery from a broken arm
"He's working hard," Brady said. "Nobody wants to be out there more than him on a full-time basis. He's never really missed any games for us, so it's been really hard for him to sit on the sideline. He wants to get out there . . . He's working hard to do his rehab and get back out there and be as full speed as he can possibly be. That's what we're all hoping. Whether that's the case, who knows?"

On Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who will retire after the season
"I said last week, I've had the privilege to play against him, and that really is a privilege," Brady explained. "You talk about guys that do things the right way and play the right way and play the game how it should be played and have respect for your opponents and the preparation. We've had some battles. It's amazing for one player like that, for as long as he's been at Baltimore they've had if not the best, one of the top three best defenses in the league, year in and year out, player after player, coordinator after coordinator. They're doing it again this year."

McAdam: More than memories fade from the ’86 Sox near miss

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McAdam: More than memories fade from the ’86 Sox near miss

The Red Sox honored the 1986 American League champions before Wednesday's game, but it wasn't the same.
      
Some 30 years on, the players, understandably, were older and heavier.

Hairlines were receded, or gone altogether, and waistlines expanded. It happens to the best of us.
      
But that wasn't what made the occasion melancholy. And it went beyond the usual nostalgia, that recognition that time eventually catches up to us all, or even the knowledge that some of that team's stars had already passed away (Dave Henderson) while others weren't well enough to appear.
      
No, it was something more. It was the realization that, through no fault of its own, the 1986 American League Championship team will mean less and
less as time passes.
      
The same can be said of the 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox and the 1975 A.L. champs, too.
      
For the longest time, those teams -- each of which won a pennant and got as far as Game 7 of the World Series before coming up short of the ultimate
goal -- were all Red Sox fans had. The near misses. The Almosts.
      
Those teams were lionized, romanticized and celebrated because they came the closest in the modern era to snapping the franchise's championship
drought. A break here, a bounce there, and maybe the string of futility wouldn't have reached 86 long years.
      
For decades, Red Sox fans had to relive how tantalizingly close those three teams got.
      
If only Lonborg had more rest for Game 7 in 1967. 
      
What might have happened if Rice didn't break his hand in September of 1975? 
     
No team got closer than the one in 1986, when the Red Sox were, more than once, one strike away. The champagne was on ice. The clubhouse was
set up for a celebration. Even the Mets, prematurely, saluted the Red Sox as 1986 champions on the scoreboard at Shea Stadium.
      
Then, it all unraveled, from the wild pitch/passed ball, to the  "little roller up along first.....behind the bag!'' That was only Game 6 of course, but the dye was cast that night. Game 7 would end in defeat, too.
      
For decades, that was all the Red Sox and their fans had. And so they toasted their heroes, who fell just short of their goal, relived the misery and staged the occasional baseball equivalent of an Irish wake.
      
What else was there to do? In need of champions, Red Sox Nation settled on the next best thing. Those guys played their hearts out, cried some in the dugout, then held their heads high.
      
Oh, well.
      
Then came 2004. And after that, 2007. And for good measure, 2013.
      
Suddenly, this World Series thing wasn't so complicated after all.

Three titles were notched in the span of a decade.
      
Now, there are happy endings to celebrate. There are Octobers to remember without the cruel plot twists at the end.
      
No more close calls, what ifs or could-have-beens. There were three honest-to-goodness World Series championships to celebrate. Even with three
last place finishes int the last four seasons, present-day Red Sox fans can lay claim to having experienced the greatest era of the team's long history.
      
And that, of course, has served to marginalize teams like the 1986 Red Sox.
      
Teams like that one, like the one lauded on the field at Fenway Wednesday night, are now quaint remembrances of another era in team history. It's like looking at old picture of yourself, decked out in a leisure suit with platform shoes: it seemed like a good idea at the time.
      
So, you smile and remember, ruefully, Marty Barrett and Oil Can Boyd and Rich Gedman. You thank them for their effort, and the memories they gave, even if some of them are still painful.
      
But you don't hold them in the same regard as Dave Roberts or Kevin Millar or Keith Foulke. You remember Clemens, but not in the way you revere Curt Schilling.
      
You still have fond feelings for '67 and '75, and most assuredly, '86, and sometimes, when you think of how they all ended their seasons, how impossibly close they came, you can't help but smile.
      
Now, you have other editions -- three! -- that figured out how to finish it off. You don't have to apologize for throwing them celebrations and you don't have to explain to out-of-towners why it is you're paying tribute to a team that lost when it counted most.
      
And every year, whether you acknowledge it or not, those teams -- none more than the one from 1986 that was feted Wednesday -- mean a little less, fade a little more into the recesses of time and shrink into history.

Gronkowski, Butler among missing from Thursday OTA session

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Gronkowski, Butler among missing from Thursday OTA session

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had a handful of surprise absences from Thursday's OTA session, the third such session of the week and the first that was open to reporters. 

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, corner Malcolm Butler, corner Logan Ryan and safety Duron Harmon were all missing from the session. The reason for their absences was unclear. 

Other players missing from the practice were receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, both of whom are recovering from offseason surgeries. Edelman was spotted wearing a boot on his surgically-repaired foot at Wednesday's Patriots fantasy camp at Gillette Stadium. 

Running backs LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis -- both of whom ended last season on injured reserve -- were also missing from the practice, as were offensive linemen Tre' Jackson, Shaq Mason, Josh Kline Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer. 

Defensive linemen Frank Kearse and Alan Branch were not present. Safety Nate Ebner, who is in the process of trying to make the US Olympic rugby squad, was also missing. 

Long-snapper Joe Cardona, who is currently fulfilling his duties as an active member of the Navy, was also not present Thursday.