Brady: We have quite a bit of work to do


Brady: We have quite a bit of work to do

Though their performance in New England's first preseason game of the season was far from explosive, Tom Brady knows he has a variety of weapons with which to work this season. He talked about the composition of the Patriots offense, as well as a variety of other topics, when he joined WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning.

"There's quite a bit of veteran depth at the receiver position and kind of youth depth at the running back position, and at the tight end position two guys who are returning who were very productive for us last year," Brady said. "So, there's definitely places to throw the ball. It's just a matter of how things really come together here in the next four weeks before the season starts. We have quite a bit of practices, we've got three preseason games. Based on last week's performance against the Saints and through training camp, we still have quite a bit of work to do. So, that's why we're going out there today to practice."

The Patriots beat the Saints 7-6 in last week's exhibition. It wasn't the immediate offensive outburst many might have been expecting, but as the first team offense receives more repetitions with one another, the number of points they post should surge proportionally. One player who could play a major role in the offense's production this fall is Brady's new outside-the-numbers threat Brandon Lloyd.

"He's one of the guys that has come in as a veteran player and he's had familiarity with what we're doing, based on being in Josh's offense for I think three or four years," Brady said. "A lot of it is just trying to understand each other a little bit better, what he's looking for and what I'm looking for. Like I said, it hasn't been long. We've only been at it for three weeks. We're constantly communicating about -- in order to be a good offense, you really have to anticipate what's going to happen before that actually happens. You can't really be reactive out there necessarily as an offense. Brandon and myself are constantly talking and trying to really get on the same page."

Lloyd's excitement to be playing for Josh McDaniels -- with whom he spent time in both Denver and St. Louis. -- has been well-documented. But Brady, who thrived under McDaniels' system when he set passing records in 2007, is just as excited to see his old offensive coordinator back in Foxboro.

"He and I are extremely comfortable with one another," Brady said of McDaniels. "He's a great coach. I love being coached by him. He comes prepared every single day. He's always got something new to add to us. He brings a lot of energy to our offense. He's a great coach."

Of course, not even McDaniels' offense can run without a functioning offensive line. The big boys in front of Brady have been very busy during training camp, trying out different combinations and different positions. Brady praised the group Monday morning.

"Always in training camp there's a lot of players in there that are competing for jobs. Certainly, the offensive line that played the other night, they've been in there a lot throughout the course of training camp," Brady said. "Honestly, it's not my job to worry about those guys. I have a lot of confidence in that group in general, not just the individuals. The longer offensive lines play together, typically the better that they play, the more comfortable they are with one another. Offensive line is very similar to an offense in general in that the more trust you have in one another, the better that you typically play. It's still early in training camp, and certainly we don't have all the answers three weeks into the year. I wouldn't expect us to peak here in early August. We've got a lot of practices, we've got a lot of communication, a lot of meetings, a lot of walk-throughs that we're going to need in order to be ready when the season really kicks off."

While he's confident that the Patriots offense will put in the work necessary to reach its considerable potential, he's not making any lofty predictions just yet.

"We're a long ways from the start of the year," he said. "We're a long ways from being the team that ultimately we're going to be. We haven't even had a regular-season practice yet. A lot of people want to make predictions this time of year -- and that's probably a fun thing to do -- but for us players, it's really a matter of just kind of putting our head down and going through the grind of training camp and the preseason games and making mistakes and learning from our mistakes and talking about the mistakes so that ultimately, when it really matters the most, we can be at our best. That's why the training camp is so necessary."

Brady touched a few other topics in the interview:

On Plaxico Burress' workout with the Patriots: "I have no idea. Those decisions aren't up to me, and like I said, I'm a player on this team, I don't make any of those decisions or decide who visits our team and so forth, or who we draft. I kind of find out like everybody else. We have a lot of receivers that have worked really hard over the course of the offseason and through training camp that are competing for a job, so it's a very competitive position, and every single one of those guys on this roster that I've had a chance to be out there with I have a lot of confidence in. However it presents itself with the final roster, those are really Coach Belichick's decisions. He's made those since the day I got here and there's really no one that can talk him into or out of anything, he's the one that makes all those decisions. That kind of the way that it goes."

On Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen: "I had quite a bit of time with them last year, and I spent the entire last season and a lot of communication with both of those guys. Obviously it looks like they've really learned a lot from last year, and judging by the way they played the other night, they're obviously very talented players, it's just a matter of, like I said, consistency and dependability of everybody on our offense. And certainly at the running back position, when you haven't played as much, it's fun to get out there and play and really see the work you put in the offseason and see how it plays out on the field. They're both excitable and they're fun to have in the huddle. They made a bunch of great plays the other night, so that was fun to see."

On the replacement officials: "None of it's for us players to worry about. We have to go out there and do our job. We have plenty of things on our plate that we have to take care of. The other night, for example, the last thing I was thinking about was the refs and their calls. I was worried about trying to complete passes. Whoever's out there is out there. I really could not care less who's calling the game. I've got to go out there and do my job as best I can."

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable


Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:


WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)


TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)