Brady says Tebow's having 'great year'

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Brady says Tebow's having 'great year'

FOXBORO - This week is shaping into a circus. The Patriots don't want to step under the big top until they have to. That explains why nearly all Tebow-related questions are quickly spun into Bronco-centric answers.

Inevitably, though, the impact Tebow is having in Denver during his 7-1 stint as a starter gives rise to so many questions that they can't all be spun into generic pap.

Tom Brady came closest on Wednesday to holding forth on Tebow and his impact as the Patriots get ready to play Denver.

Even though he's never met Tebow, Brady's take is germane because he plays the same position and overcame similar obstacles in his second year in the league when he led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl win.

How does a young player overcome non-believers?

"I think you just really have confidence in yourself that you can achieve whatever you think you can achieve, and then you try to work hard at it, and then when you get your opportunity you try to take advantage of it," Brady explained. "I think thats what a lot of young players not everyone is a high pick or not everyone gets a lot of chances right out of the box, but when you do get your opportunity, you really try to take advantage of your opportunity and do your best and give everything you have. If football means a lot to you and its important, usually good things happen."

Football is clearly important to Tebow. And aside from the spiritual element he espouses, his ability, energy, optimism and authenticity has seemed to make believers out of his teammates. Same way the Patriots bought in with Brady.

"Id say, as a team, everyone is trying to raise everybodys collective level energy and enthusiasm, and thats part of being a team," Brady said when asked if one player can raise the play of his teammates. "You can really only do your job. Thats what Coach Belichick has stressed to us day after day here. I can only play quarterback, Andre Carter can only play defensive end, Kevin Faulk can only play running back, and you have to do your job as well as you possibly can, because no one else can do it for you. The better you do it and the better everyone individually does it, the better collectively youll be as a team."

It seems more than coincidence, though, that Tebow's work- and that of his teammates - when the Broncos are in desperate straits is high. Tebow's fourth-quarter statistics, when he rises from a 46 percent completion guy to a 61 percent thrower, show the way his performance elevates.

What can a quarterback do as a leader in crunch time?

"Its an important part of the position," Brady said when asked about leadership. "You're the one calling the plays. Youre obviously the coach in the huddle. Its a responsibility that I think every quarterback takes very seriously leading your team and representing what your coaches are trying to put across on the field. Obviously he does a very good job of that."
Standard as his responses were, Brady did acknowledge that there is something compelling about Tebow's game.

"I appreciate good quarterback play," Brady said. "Im always watching around the league, whether its Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees having phenomenal years. Obviously, Tim is having a great year. You watch guys and the way that they perform under pressure and it says a lot about who they are and the way their teammates feel about them. Its a big challenge. Its going to be a very electric environment out there. Weve had some really great games against the Broncos over the years. I'm sure this will be no different."
Not sure everyone will agree with that.

Patriots sign TE Rob Housler to future contract

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Patriots sign TE Rob Housler to future contract

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have signed free-agent tight end Rob Housler to a future contract. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound target last played for the Bears but was released at the end of training camp.

Housler won't be eligible to participate with the Patriots during the postseason, but he will be available for the offseason program and training camp leading up to the 2017 campaign. 

Housler taken in the third round by the Cardinals with the 69th overall selection in 2011. In 65 career games, he has 109 catches for 1,166 yards and one touchdown. 

The Patriots may have been intrigued by Housler's skill set last summer when he caught one pass for 52 yards -- making two Patriots defenders miss in the process -- during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots and Bears held joint training camp practices in August that would have given Patriots coaches and scouts a closer look at everything Housler has to offer as a player. 

Housler was one of the better athletes at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2011, running a 4.55-second 40-yard dash (fastest among tight ends), posting a 6.9-second three-cone drill, and recording a 37-inch vertical leap.

Bill Belichick and his staff hit big on a future-contract signing two years ago when a running back with a significant injury history was available to scoop up at the behest of then-assistant to the coaching staff Michael Lombardi. Since then, the Patriots still have never lost with Dion Lewis in uniform. 

Edelman, Bennett marvel at Harrison's longevity

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Edelman, Bennett marvel at Harrison's longevity

FOXBORO -- On a daily basis, Patriots players are in the presence of perhaps the best late-30s player to ever lace up cleats. That's why it's noteworthy when those who inhabit the same locker room as Tom Brady marvel at another player playing at a high level despite being one of the oldest in the league. 

That's exactly the case with Steelers linebacker James Harrison, 38, who is the oldest non-quarterback, non-kicker in the NFL. 

Since the Patriots last saw Harrison, he's become an every-down player for Pittsburgh's improving defense, missing just nine total defensive snaps for the Steelers since Week 14. He's saved his best football for the postseason -- three sacks, two quarterback hits and seven quarterback pressures in the last two weeks, per Pro Football Focus -- and the Patriots have noticed.

Julian Edelman, who wears the same Kent State t-shirt to every Patriots practice, raved about his "fellow Flash."

"He’s an unbelievable stud," Edelman said of Harrison, who went undrafted seven years before Edelman was taken in the seventh round. "The guy has been doing it consistently for a long time.

"I’ve been a huge fan of him before I got in the league, and just to see and kind of have an idea where he came from, it’s unbelievable to show how hard he’s worked to get to where he’s got. He’s a large man that is fast, explosive, and if he’s coming my way, it’s going to be a 'get down.' "

While Edelman will do his best to avoid the 6-foot, 242-pounder, Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett will likely be asked to block Harrison at some point. The Steelers defense will move Harrison to different spots at times, but he does much of his work on the outside where Bennett will be situated. 

"Harrison is playing well," Bennett said. "He’s almost as old as my pops, and he’s still playing like a beast out there."