FOXBORO -- While a hoard of reporters and cameras convened in preparation for Tom Brady's post-practice media availability, the 36-year-old quarterback was tethered to a trainer. Almost out of site, on a far side of the practice fields at Gillette Stadium, Brady sprinted back and forth, dragging the man behind him by a resistance band.
It wasn't something required by Brady's coaches. In fact, nearly all of Brady's teammates were off the field by the time he finished the strength and conditioning work. But in order to maintain his level, it was the kind of thing Brady said he has focused on leading up to the 2014 season.
"There’s a lot that goes into this," Brady said. "You know, it’s strength, it’s speed, it’s conditioning, it’s the mental preparation. The great equalizer is that everyone has the same amount of time to do it so, you know, I listen to my coach, I talk about the things I need to do to improve, and we go out and work on them.
"It’s usually not one thing, there’s typically more than just one thing to improve on, especially when you look back, like last year, when we didn’t perform as well as we’re capable of on offense. So, we’re trying to make a lot of improvements, and certainly it starts with me and my ability to lead our team and play at a high level."
Brady was precise in his work on Wednesday. Whether floating a touchdown pass to Kenbrell Thompkins over the outstretched arms of Brandon Browner, or finding Michael Hoomanawanui for a diving grab when Jerod Mayo gave him nearly no window, Brady was on point.
But even as mini-camp winds down -- there is one more scheduled practice on Thursday -- and the team heads into its break before training camp in July, Brady said there is plenty for him to work on.
Just because there's nearly a month before training camp doesn't mean it's a good time to take a month off.
"I think we really had our vacation. I think that part's over," said Brady, who said he still wasn't sure if he'd be going to Brazil for the World Cup with wife Gisele.
"Not that you shouldn't enjoy time with your family and stuff like that. For that seven months we're pretty busy every day. I think you really focus on being prepared for camp. It's really a time to start accelerating your preparation. What we've done these last four weeks, you know what you need to improve on. Maybe it's conditioning or any particular aspect of your game that you really need to work on that showed up in this part of camp and you've got five weeks to work on it, make it better so you come into camp at the most important time, really at your best."
When Brady came in as a rookie in 2000, there was a lot more time organized for him and his teammates to spend at the facility and get ready for camp.
Under the current CBA, Jimmy Garoppolo -- who had a shaky day of practice on Wednesday -- won't have nearly the time Brady did to learn.
"We had a lot more time than the kids have now," Brady said. "We had quarterback school where we met five days a week for like nine hours, all going through the playbook. That was really helpful to me because by the time I got to OTAs I pretty much knew everything. And then you have the opportunity to compete. We kept four quarterbacks my first two years so, it was just a great position for me to be in to sit back and learn and watch and understand the things I needed to do to help us. And when I got the opportunity, I tried to take advantage of it."
Not only did Brady revel in the opportunity to understand the NFL system with hours upon hours of study at the stadium, but he took drawings of formations home and studied those as well. It was a never-ending process.
It was a process that to this day hasn't been finished. Brady dragging a grown man up and down the field after Wednesday's practice was a vivid reminder of that.